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Mini-storage facility approved for Alta Sierra, 200 units planned

Plans for a mini-storage business in Alta Sierra inspired a mini-discussion about notifying neighbors of zoning changes Tuesday. The chat ended with the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously approving the project.

Stan Smith plans to initially have about 200 storage units on a seven-building, 40,000-square-foot facility when his business on Little Valley Road, near Highway 49 and Alta Sierra Drive, opens in June or July.

Concerns arose because some neighbors didn’t feel they were properly notified about the facility. Al Schafer, president of the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, said the association was late in learning about the project but has since addressed its concerns with Smith.



Lack of notification is a frequent gripe, officials agreed.

State law requires that neighbors living within 300 feet of a project must be notified; the county abides by sending notice through the mail and by publishing a legal notice in the newspaper, Assistant County Counsel Hal DeGraw said.




Historically, he added, the county also informs the first layer of neighbors beyond the 300-foot requirement.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant wants the county to make broader notification, particularly with projects that affect larger populations such as Alta Sierra. He and Horne agreed to put the issue on a future agenda, and Alta Sierra has been added to the county’s notification list.

Worries about Smith’s project included water runoff into nearby Rattlesnake Creek, vehicle traffic, aesthetics along the highway corridor and crime.

The creek runs through the property of an across-the-street neighbor, Pam Abney, who objects to the project.

“We already had a crime problem,” she said, claiming that neighboring businesses have been theft victims. She also referred to Sacramento-area gangs that use storage businesses to stash stolen property.

The project, which had already gained Planning Commission approval, requires Smith to make sure the water doesn’t raise the creek’s peak flows. As for traffic, he told supervisors that his brief market research showed most customers would come from two to five miles away.

While the facility’s roofs might be visible from the highway, particularly after the anticipated highway-widening project, signs will be limited to the front of the property on Little Valley Road. Smith currently runs a roofing business on the land, which he plans to move to another property.

Before Tuesday, two of the Little Valley Road property’s three parcels were already zoned neighborhood commercial and were adjoined to other businesses next to the highway. The supervisors’ votes switched the remaining 1.29-acre parcel from residential agriculture to neighborhood commercial.

Also on Tuesday:

— Chairwoman Sue Horne appointed Supervisor Robin Sutherland to the Yuba Watershed Council, a multi-agency group that keeps an eye on the South Yuba.

Horne said she would serve as alternate. Supervisor Peter Van Zant offered to serve as an alternate, but Horne declined. “I’d like to keep myself as the alternate. But thank you for your offer,” Horne told Van Zant.

— The board approved County Executive Officer Richard Haffey’s contract with an annual salary of $115,000. His salary will increase to $120,000, effective July 14.

— The supervisors passed a motion to seek a consulting firm to study what needs to be done to upgrade the Lake Wildwood, Lake of the Pines and Cascade Shores waste water treatment plants.


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