Group forms in opposition to Grass Valley Dorsey Marketplace project |

Group forms in opposition to Grass Valley Dorsey Marketplace project

Teresa Yinmeng Liu
Staff Writer

After gleaning a more detailed look at the Dorsey Marketplace project during a March open house, Gerald Gates decided he needed to take a more proactive approach in voicing his concerns about the proposed 26.9-acre mixed-use development.

“That is when the group started, because we saw what the developers were planning,” Gates said. “We knew this was a revised project; they supposedly went back and scaled down the project. But it was still huge from our perspective; that is when we decided we needed to figure out a battle plan.”

Gates and several residents banded together under the banner: Keep Grass Valley Great. The community group consists of Grass Valley homeowners, employees in town, young families, retired people, and local business owners. Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, all group members have one unified goal, he said.

“The commonality between all of us that there are aspects of the Dorsey Marketplace project that we don’t like, and we’d like to see (them) modified before any permit is issued for that project,” Gates said.

Dorsey Marketplace is the brainchild of Washington-based investor Russell Jeter. The project aims to develop a large-scale residential and community center that includes 181,900 square feet of retail space, a dog park, three drive-through restaurants, murals, community art and local history displays, and a 90-unit apartment complex.

The project, which would be built at the southeast corner of Dorsey Drive and Highway 20/49, has received mixed reviews from the community since Jeter resubmitted his project design in December. Supporters praise the project for helping to net sales tax revenue in Nevada County; opponents criticize the project for its potential to undermine local mom and pop stores.

In addition to its effect on local business, Gates also cited traffic, environmental issues, and a negative effect on the quality of life among his concerns.

“The biggest one is that the scale of the project is just too large. It’s essentially a retail project that is estimated to bring close to 200,000 square feet of additional retail,” Gates told The Union Thursday, “… it seems really out of place for our community.”

Despite opposition to the project, some of the recent public hearings failed to draw many attendees.

Gates said that low turnout likely was due to the long application process. Jeter first submitted his conceptual plan in 2014 and a formal development plan in March 2015. He was asked by staff to modify the project, which didn’t receive a lot of public attention until December 2015 when Jeter came back with a revised plan.

“Again, there was a bunch of upset people when they heard about it, but then the project goes away from their view again, because nothing really happened for a long time,” Gates said.

Gates also asked city officials to be more proactive in posting notices about public meetings on the project well in advance so residents could have ample time to plan their schedule. City officials announced a schedule of key dates in early February, in advance of three March meetings.

Over the course of six months, the community group has garnered around 800 “active” followers on its Facebook page, Gates said. Recently, members stepped up their effort to heighten awareness of the project by sending out flyers to community members.

According to Gates, the next big focus of the group would be the Environmental Impact Report, originally scheduled to be completed in July. Community Development Director Tom Last reported during an Aug. 16 Planning Commission meeting that staff is “a little behind schedule” on the report due to some changes they needed to make to the existing traffic model.

“There are some people that actually want more retail in this area. I’ve spoken with some people that are actually in favor of the project. They want these big chain stores and the fast food restaurants to come in here,” Gates said. “The people that are in our group though like Grass Valley and Nevada City the way it is right now. And they don’t want to see a lot more traffic. And they don’t want to see a lot more litter. And they don’t want to see the crime increases. I think the people in our group tend to favor keeping this area small.”

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please email, or call 530-477-4236.

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