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Hopefuls debate PV zoning

Nevada County’s District 4 supervisor candidates like the idea of more commercial development to serve the district’s growing population.

Candidates Rene Antonson, Elizabeth Martin and Robin Sutherland talked about their views on development and zoning at a Wednesday debate sponsored by the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce.

While it’s not a shopping or a commercial mecca, Penn Valley is one of the fastest-growing areas in Nevada County. The area’s population grew 25 percent from 1989 to 1999, according to the U.S. Census.



And District 4 is right across the border from a major, 5,000-home development proposed in Yuba County.

The questions were written by chamber members and picked by candidates out of a hat.




One asked the candidates if they thought the district needed more commercial areas.

“Yes, I do. I believe the core district, especially the Penn Valley/Wildwood area, has land that is appropriately zoned for new development,” said incumbent Supervisor Martin, “and I am very interested in new development coming in that is appropriate for our community.”

According to a chamber survey a year ago, everyone agreed the area needs a hotel or motel, said Martin. And a new car wash is also a good thing.

Antonson also supported more commercial development, saying he would like to see a big-box retail center like a Wal-Mart.

Having shopping, jobs and medical facilities in the district would keep people from driving on sometimes dangerous roads, said Antonson.

“We need people to stay here in District 4, spend their money here, have their jobs here, and we don’t get on the road, and we don’t worry about them getting killed on Highway 20 because some yokel is coming down at 80 mph from Grass Valley,” said Antonson. He added that he has proposed putting up a divider barrier on Highway 20.

Antonson said a potential hotel and convention center was stonewalled because someone at the county Planning Department “said ‘I don’t like that.'”

Sutherland also supported commercial development. “Yes, I definitely believe District 4 needs some more commercial uses here, and I would support a motel,” she said.

Another question was where the district’s zoning map should be changed.

Sutherland said she wants to change zoning to permit a joint-use facility for seniors, youth and others. She also wants a better library and a local high school for the Penn Valley area.

Antonson said Penn Valley needs a senior center, a community center, more services and zoning changes to facilitate them.

“There’s hardly any service that you can think of, if you live in District 4, you don’t have to go to Grass Valley to get,” said Antonson.

Martin said she is opposed to forcing a property owner to change zoning. Almost all zoning changes are sought by property owners, she said.

One change she would be interested in is the Newtown area, which could be home to 14,000 people at the end of Spenceville Road under current zoning.

“I’ve worked with the landowners to explore other economic uses for their property,” said Martin.


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