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Council unanimity not possible on growth issues

Deftly ducking Grass Valley Councilman Dean Williams’ suggestion to secure the entire council’s approval on the upcoming major development decisions, the council Tuesday evening instead stressed the importance of teamwork and “agreeing to disagree.”

“Having sat here for a few years, you don’t always get your way and you just have to deal with it,” Mayor Gerard Tassone said.

Tassone suggested the council participate in a facilitated team-building session to learn to resolve conflict and emphasize the strengths of each councilmember.



Williams said Tassone and the other councilmembers addressed part of his suggestion – encouraging civility – but avoided his proposal to work toward a supermajority – the support of four or five, instead of three councilmembers – on development issues.

“(Their reaction) was really all I hoped for,” said Williams, who said he hadn’t known how his fellow councilmembers would react.




Williams had previously floated his supermajority suggestion before the council, but had postponed discussion until Tuesday when all members were present.

Growth issues, including the fate of the four major developments proposed for Grass Valley’s outskirts, are so critical a higher standard should apply, Williams said.

“Working toward three votes is a whole different thing than working toward five votes (when we need) to make compromises so all segments of the community are represented with the choices we make,” Williams said.

The four developments – SouthHill Villages, North Star, Loma Rica Ranch, and Kenny Ranch – propose adding hundreds of houses, as well as office and shopping space.

All are on hold pending the release of a study on their economic effects on Grass Valley and the current stock of land suitable for development.

Williams said he was encouraged by the council’s response, although he admitted his reaction could be attributed to his generally optimistic nature.

He said he plans to promote his idea by striving to achieve unanimity on the council on major issues. He attempted this Tuesday during a discussion of the best location for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s headquarters. It did not work – instead of a 4-1 vote, the council split the vote on a compromise measure, 3-2.

Nonetheless, Williams will continue to stress the desirability of supermajority votes, an exercise he said is rewarding regardless of the outcome.

Achieving a unanimous vote is always the goal, Tassone said, but it isn’t always achievable.

He said he “seriously doubts” the fate of the major developments will be decided by a 5-0 vote.


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