Consultant hired for Nevada City sphere of influence update | TheUnion.com

Consultant hired for Nevada City sphere of influence update

The Local Agency Formation Commission on Thursday took the next step in updating Nevada City's "sphere of influence" — the physical area that the city could annex in the future and where it currently has a say in land use decisions — and has hired consultant group Kimley Horn to prepare an environmental impact report.

The environmental impact report will be paid for by the commission as part of a compromise hammered out over the last year, in the wake of a controversial move to drastically reduce the boundaries of Nevada City's sphere of influence. Nevada City's current sphere of influence encompasses 2,907 acres and was adopted in 1983. The Local Agency Formation Commission had proposed cutting that to 1,425 acres.

Commission Executive Director SR Jones has said she suggested the decrease for several reasons, including the city's low growth rate and past annexation history. But the commission saw push-back from the community, with Nevada City residents packing the Rood Center in September of last year to fight the proposed reduction.

Commission staff and Nevada City staff then came up with a "consensus boundary," which retains most of the lands with the exception of some areas that are more remote from the city's public sewer system lines.

The Local Agency Formation Commission agreed to fund the environmental impact report rather than burdening the city with the cost. That report will look at three different proposed boundaries — the original sphere of influence from 2008, the commission's initial recommendation to reduce the sphere, and the consensus boundary, which is the preferred alternative.

Now that the contract with the consultant has been approved, the real work will begin, Jones said.

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Kimley Horn will be paid nearly $78,000 to produce the environmental impact report, which is expected to take nine months to a year. That process will include meeting with Nevada City staff to discuss the scope of the report, preparation of a draft and a 45-day public review that will result in a final report.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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