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Developer revives Dorsey Marketplace; Grass Valley releases Draft EIR (Read the doc)

An aerial 3-D rendering of the proposed Dorsey Marketplace.
Submitted art

Know & Go

Copies of the Draft EIR are available for public review during regular business hours at the Nevada County Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City; the Grass Valley Library, 207 Mill St., Grass Valley; and Grass Valley City Hall at 125 E. Main St. The document can also be viewed on the city’s web site at http://www.cityofgrassvalley.com. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss, and take comments on, the Draft EIR on Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in the Grass Valley City Council Chambers, 125 E. Main St.

The public will get a first look today at the newest version of the controversial Dorsey Marketplace project that was first floated to Grass Valley residents back in 2014.

The mixed-use development just off the Dorsey Drive interchange with Highway 49 has gone through multiple iterations since then, subtracting a movie theater and adding a residential component. After a flurry of activity in 2016 that included an open house, scoping meeting and a site tour, the project went dark for more than two years.

During that time, Grass Valley Community Development Director Tom Last said, work was going on that included revising the project’s mix between commercial and residential, and finalizing the needed studies.

But now that work is seeing the light of day. The Draft Environmental Impact Report — a 536-page document that addresses the environmental effects of the project, identifies possible ways to minimize significant effects, and describes reasonable alternatives — has been released and is available to the public during a 45-day review period. During that period, the Grass Valley Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss, and take comments on, the report on April 16.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report evaluates two project alternatives, both of which require a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation from Business Park to Commercial and Residential Urban High Density, and a rezone from Corporate Business Park to Commercial and Multiple Dwelling Residential.

Alternative A proposes approximately 178,960 square feet of commercial building space and 90 apartment units. There would be four major shops (20-40,000 square feet), six smaller shops (3,800-7,200 square feet), and three pads for drive-through restaurants. The market-rate rental apartments are expected to include 50 two-bedroom units and 20 each of the one- and three-bedroom layouts. The units would range in size from 1,013-1,600 square feet. They would be constructed as two-story buildings in the southeastern corner of the project site. This area would include an apartment clubhouse and pool. A small dog park is also proposed.

Alternative B proposes 104,350 square feet of commercial building space, 8,500 square feet of office space and 171 apartments. There would be two major shops (35,000 and 21,500 square feet), five smaller shops (4,000-8,500 square feet), three pads for drive-through services such as fast-food and financial institutions (3,200- 4,200 square feet) and one 6,000-square-foot pad that would support food service without a drive-through. The apartments would include 95 two-bedroom units and 38 each of the one- and three-bedroom layouts, ranging in size from 1,013 to 1,600 square feet.

They would be constructed as two-story and three-story buildings in the southern portion of the project site. One of the buildings would include approximately 50 percent apartment space and 50 percent office space, providing 8,500 square feet of office space near the center of the project site. Alternative B includes an apartment clubhouse, pool and tot lot park area. A small dog park is also proposed in this alternative.

According to Last, the decision to offer a second alternative with more housing is a big part of the reason for the lengthy delay.

The continued economic downturn — and the dramatic change in the retail market — was a big issue, Last said.

“The developers did some additional research and market studies, and looked at the impact of the internet on brick and mortar stores,” he said. “They wanted to take a step back and look at alternatives with additional residential units … They put everything on hold.”

The city was asked to study both options and give them equal weight in the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

“That was the biggest delay,” Last said, adding the consultants had to finalize their work on the original studies and also look at the second alternative.

The voluminous report covers land use; population, employment and housing; aesthetics; biological resources; cultural resources; transportation; noise; air quality; climate change; geology, soils, seismicity and paleontology; hydrology and water quality; public services and utilities; and hazards and hazardous materials. A section also deals with possible alternatives to the proposed project.

According to the Executive Summary, areas of controversy that already have been raised include traffic generation and proximity to the Dorsey Drive Interchange; safety concerns regarding the project’s use of Spring Hill Drive;increased development changing the visual character of Grass Valley; loss of habitat; visual impacts such as signage and light pollution; and air quality impacts from idling delivery trucks as well as retail goods from overseas.

An 80-page “narrative project description” has been released on the project developer’s website that offers additional details, including floor plans for the proposed apartments.

“The Dorsey Marketplace will not only contribute (to) the woefully inadequate housing supply, but will also capture and grow desperately needed sales and property tax revenues and create new local jobs,” the report states.

The project site is the former Spring Hill Mine, which closed in the late 1940s, the report notes.

“The property has been bypassed for redevelopment due to its mining legacy contamination,” it states. “The redevelopment of this Brownfield site will clean up and remediate the hazardous legacy mining impacts. After over 65 years, the site will be cleaned up and put back in use to the economic benefit of the community, the adjoining neighborhoods and the environment.”

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

Dorsey Marketplace DEIR.pdf by on Scribd

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