Higgins Marketplace OK to go | TheUnion.com

Higgins Marketplace OK to go

Bel Air Supermarket, shown here at another shopping center, may become an occupant of Higgins Market.
Submitted | Submitted

Higgins Marketplace, a South County commercial construction project that has been held up in the court system for the past four years, will move forward after a panel of judges in the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled in favor of the developer.

The ruling means Fred Katz, owner of Roseville-based FHK Properties, can commence construction on a 57,000-square-foot supermarket flanked by smaller retail structures on a 20-acre lot behind the CVS Pharmacy at Combie Road and Highway 49.

The lawsuit, which was originally brought forward by South County Citizens for Smart Growth in 2009, named Katz and Nevada County, alleging both entities violated the California Environmental Quality Act on multiple fronts during the project approval process

In 2011, a Superior Court decided in favor of the county and the appellate court affirmed that ruling on Tuesday.

“We conclude the county did not err in failing to prepare and recirculate a revised draft EIR,” the ruling states, adding the county appropriately studied alternatives and conducted a traffic study that was based upon relevant data.

The initial candidate to occupy the supermarket space was a Bel Air market, but Katz told The Union in March that economics had changed.

“We’ll pretty much start over on the economics, but we have drawn the interest of two other supermarket chains in the event Bel Air decides to move forward,” Katz said.

Candidates for the retail anchor do not include a Trader Joe’s as the supermarket chain prefers to inhabit a 25,000-square-foot building and enter an established trade area of 150,000 people, Katz said, suggesting Nevada City, Grass Valley and Auburn fall short of such a population mark.

Margie Joehnck, Citizens for Smart Growth president, told The Union in March that the project would disturb traffic patterns in the area and prove detrimental to several of the area’s small businesses.

Behind-the-scenes conjecture has placed Holiday Market grocery store as one of the financiers of the Citizens for Smart Growth, an assertion that Joehnck denied, saying that other small businesses in the area did, however, join the group.

Project construction is slated for 2014, Katz said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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