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Detached garages scuttle NC homes

Kerana M. Todorov

It may be a while before the first house is built at American Hill Tract, Nevada City’s newest subdivision off West Broad Street.

A proposal to build a 2,174-square-foot house on Chief Kelly Drive did not pass the Nevada City’s Planning Commission Thursday.

The vote was 2-2; three votes were required to approve the plans.

Chairwoman Laurie Oberholtzer and Commissioner Evans Phelps voted against Norm Nielsen’s plans, saying the house should not be built with an attached garage.

The house needs to fit into the old American Hill neighborhood, Oberholtzer said. “It is not an unreasonable expectation in Nevada City to have a detached garage,” she said.

The city’s restrictions for the 20-lot subdivision “encourages” detached garages. Several houses in the older neighborhood have attached garages.

Phelps said the attached garage would make the house 72 feet wide. “That is big,” she said. The house should be built to be unassertive, she said.

Nielsen told the commissioners the city does not require detached garages at the subdivision . At age 65, he said, he does not want to haul groceries from the detached garage to the house.

Commissioner Ruth Poulter voted for Nielsen’s plans.

“(Nielsen)’s followed all the rules and the regulations,” Poulter said before the vote.

Vice Chairman Harry Stewart also supported the plans. “It seems to me the man has complied with (all) the development standards,” he said.

Nielsen said he will appeal the vote to the City Council, saying the city does not require detached garages.

Nielsen, of Grass Valley, was the second property owner of a lot at the new subdivision to lock horns with city officials this week.

On Monday, the Nevada City Council denied Ron Gangemi and his wife, Jan Haggar, the right to build a 2,076-square-foot house, in part because the plans – like Nielsen’s – had an attached garage.

The City Council, in a 3-2 vote, upheld the Planning Commission’s decision not to approve the plans last month.

Gangemi, who said he had spent $100,000 to purchase his lot in December, on Friday said he and other property owners are getting together to discuss their alternatives, including hiring an arbitrator or suing the city.

“Everyone is trying to figure out what would be an appropriate next step,” he said.

Erickson Realty Ltd., the Beaverton, Ore.-based developer of the 20-lot subdivision, requires that no vehicles be parked on the streets or in driveways, a rule the city cannot enforce.

Other restrictions, spelled out in Erickson’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, require the houses to be 1,800 to 3,000 square feet, no taller than 35 feet and with a garage large enough for two cars. Garages – either attached or detached from the house – cannot face the street.

The new American Hill tract is 8.37 acres.

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