City cuts housing in Loma Rica plan
Phil Carville’s plan to develop the Loma Rica Ranch area is exciting to most members of the Grass Valley City Council, and Mayor Gerard Tassone called it “cutting edge” late Monday.
But while council members allowed Carville’s application – one of the city’s four special development areas – to proceed, they also unanimously slashed the proposed housing units from 1,200 to somewhere between 500 and 700. The council also asked Carville to bring back a plan with more business park land use and less commercial land on the project’s 452 acres.
The council’s 5-0 vote allows Carville to move ahead with an environmental impact report and at least 18 months of city review and public hearings on his project.
The council said the number of housing units could increase but not until after the year 2020. Carville said he plans to build six mixed-use residential-work villages on the property in 11 phases over 14 to 20 years, as the market will allow.
Cutting the housing units almost met the request of Rural Quality Coalition representative Laurie Oberholzer, who said that the project’s 1,200 housing units were “six times more” than the city’s General Plan allocation of 180 units.
If the council had allowed the full 1,200 units Carville proposed, it would house about 3,000 people, Oberholzer said, “exactly the same size as Nevada City. You’re talking about a new town here.”
Councilman Dean Williams agreed with Oberholzer, saying the 1,200 units was “too far of a stretch” for existing city sewer capacity and what existing roads could handle.
Despite the housing cuts, city officials praised Carville’s plan – lavishly at times.
“We can become the model of how things are going to become in the Sierra,” said Vice Mayor Mark Johnson. “They’re repeating downtown Grass Valley.”
According to Community Development Director Joe Heckel, Carville’s plan brings “the best form of Grass Valley architecture we’ve seen come across our desks.”
Carville said his plan was “the best definition of infill I’ve ever seen” because the area around the ranch is developed and has existing power, water and sewer lines to handle his project. The project also could connect the Nevada County Airport industrial park area to sewer lines, he said. Currently, the industrial park is all on septic systems.
Carville said the current plan calls for erecting all of the project’s buildings on 121 acres, weaving businesses with housing, putting flats above industrial buildings, and offering bungalows and cottages to meet affordable housing needs. The project would use around 300 of the remaining acres for parks and open space.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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