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More delay for condo project

Eileen JoyceStevie and Bill Sheatsley sit outside one of their cottages in Nevada City on Monday. They hope to sell the five cottages - and build and sell two more - as condos.
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Stevie and Bill Sheatsley hoped to do good and make a profit when they first proposed selling seven cottages as individual condominiums on Nevada Street in Nevada City.

The units – five existing and two new – could be sold at a moderate price in a city where the lack of affordable housing is an ongoing issue.

In addition, under a deal reached with the Nevada City Planning Commission in July, two cottages would be sold for $150,000 each – or $50,000 less than each cottage’s estimated market value.



To do all that, the Nevada City City Council had to redesignate the 1.08-acre property as a planned development.

But some $10,000 and nine months of planning later, the Sheatsley’s project is on hold.




On Oct. 15, the City Council unanimously turned down a request to approve the condominium map.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” Stevie Sheatsley said Sunday.

Members of the council suggested the Sheatsleys follow another route and return to the Planning Commission to request a series of variances to the city’s zoning code.

“I just felt the (planned development designation) was not the best way to go,” said City Councilman Tom Balch, who hopes the Sheatsleys pursue their plans.

The cottages were built in the 1930s along what was then the main highway in and out of town, long before modern zoning laws were enacted, Sheatsley said. The buildings face a courtyard rather than the street, contrary to modern city rules.

A longtime builder and contractor, Bill Sheatsley said the whole experience has left him perplexed. He has expressed his disappointment in a letter addressed to each member of the City Council.

“The message you are sending is loud and clear,” Sheatsley wrote in the letter dated Friday. “‘Don’t try to build anything in Nevada City, affordable or otherwise.’ (Unless, of course, it relates to tourism).”

“I need to tell all of you, that’s right, 5 to 0, how deeply ashamed I am of you,” Sheatsley also wrote. “Your actions last Tuesday did nothing to serve yourselves, your city, or its citizens. It is time to change your ways.”

They have no intention of suing the city, the Sheatsleys said Sunday. “This isn’t our way,” Sheatsley said.

Instead, in a letter dated Sunday, Sheatsley wrote that he wants the City Council to reverse its decision.

Balch said Sunday that he had not seen the letters, but would be willing to reconsider. City Councilman Steve Cottrell, who received Sheatsley’s letters Monday, said he does not understand how the application got as far as it did.

Nevada City Planning Commission Chairwoman Laurie Oberholtzer said she still thinks it is a good project.


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