BriarPatch construction plans vetoed |

BriarPatch construction plans vetoed

The Grass Valley Planning Commission on Wednesday rejected plans to construct a shopping center – anchored by an expanded BriarPatch Community Market – atop Litton Hill.

Commissioners cited traffic concerns and the need to adhere to the city’s General Plan, which calls for an office building, convenience store, or other business-park use on the site.

Calloway Development now plans to appeal the decision and take its proposal to construct a 20,000-square-foot shopping center – a Safeway-size BriarPatch and four smaller stores – to the City Council, developer Jeff Gold said.

Gold cited the “overwhelming community participation and support of this project” when he addressed the commission.

But the Planning Commission disagreed.

“(BriarPatch) would be better placed in another location that’s not quite so impactive as this,” Commissioner Dale White said.

“This location is a breakup of the General Plan,” said Commissioner Gloria Hyde.

The three-member Planning Commission – down Paul Aguilar, who recused himself because he is related to the developer, and minus Lisa Swarthout, who was elected to the City Council – went against the largely pro-BriarPatch crowd, which packed the council chamber and spilled into the entryway.

Despite stern admonitions from Hyde, numerous neighbors and BriarPatch shoppers spoke before the commission.

“I feel like an environmental hypocrite,” said resident Julia Carol, who listed a handful of stores she has to shop at to buy all of her favorite foods. “Help me get my car off the road (by allowing a larger BriarPatch).”

Residents of the nearby Morgan Ranch neighborhood were split over the proposal. Some neighbors, including Grant and Ingrid Cattaneo and Max and Ann McCann, said they don’t want to have the traffic generated by BriarPatch near their homes.

But others, including Mark Hall and Matt and Barbara DePauli, said they support the co-op’s move.

Some BriarPatch shoppers, including former Nevada County Supervisor Izzy Martin, pointed out that a convenience store could be constructed under the land’s current zoning.

Much of the discussion Tuesday revolved around traffic technicalities, such as the number of drivers who would stop by BriarPatch on their way to somewhere else, and whether those drivers would be on Sierra College Drive or another road, such as East Main Street.

The debate stemmed from an April traffic report that Calloway Development had submitted to comply with city standards.

An examination of that traffic study, released only days ago, concluded the shopping center would generate more traffic than originally projected.

To know exactly how much traffic and which roadways would be affected, however, additional calculations would need to be done, Associate Planner Dan Chance said.

Commissioners White and Hyde effectively voted to allow the City Council to address the proposal and additional traffic information. Commissioner Jim Bair, however, wanted to see the issue return before the Planning Commission.

However, now the proposed project will be heard by the City Council, which can overturn the Planning Commission’s decision.

The Planning Commission’s decision added another delay to the BriarPatch’s six-year hunt for a larger store. Plans to construct a store off Plaza Drive in the Glenbrook Basin fell through several years ago.

Now, the co-op’s 2,000 members will need to wait another month for the City Council to consider their plans for the store on the northwest corner of Sierra College and Litton drives.

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