More opposition for growth initiative
Senior Staff Writer
Calling it disastrous for the region, three diverse business or economic development groups have taken a strong stance against the Managed Growth Initiative set for Grass Valley voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.
In addition, two of the three have denounced the alternative Limited Growth Initiative.
The Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, the county’s Economic Resource Council and the Farm Bureau all said Thursday they are dead set against the Managed Growth Initiative. The ERC and Chamber also denounced the Limited Growth Initiative.
“In effect, it would snuff out the economic vitality of the city of Grass Valley,” said chamber Executive Director Mary Ann Mueller about the Managed Growth Initiative, also known as Measure Z.
“The chamber has taken a stance against it ” our mission is to make economy of Grass Valley and Nevada County vital,” Mueller said. “It’s ballot box planning at its worst.”
Grant Cattaneo’s group Friends of Grass Valley denies the economic consequences: “This initiative provides Grass Valley residents the opportunity to vote to support their vision of maintaining a small town. If the City Council approves a project that requires a General Plan amendment to ‘up-zone’ a property, it will then go to a vote of the people.”
Cattaneo sent an email on Thursday that said: “Measure Z doesn’t freeze the General Plan nor does it stop growth.
“The city’s approved General Plan has planned for the city’s population to increase by 46 percent from 1999 to 2020 and that is comparing the large planning area (not the city limits) from 1999 to 2020; and in addition, the plan shows the city limits expanding more than triple in acreage for the same period.”
But the three groups wholeheartedly disagreed with Cattaneo’s group, first observing that the city’s population isn’t growing much, if at all ” and is well below the General Plan’s projections.
In addition, the City Council is elected to make decisions on land use and should be allowed to do so, said Nevada County Farm Bureau board member John Powers, in explaining his board’s opposition to Measure Z.
“It shouldn’t have to go to a public vote every time there’s a change” in general plan land-use elements, Powers said.
“A lot of our members shop in Grass Valley, and we’re concerned about the economic impacts on the city. It could be very detrimental,” he added. “If it goes through, it puts pressure on the county for development and could cause sprawl.”
Powers said the Farm Bureau will address the Limited Growth Initiative, or Measure Y, in the future.
Economic Council leader Gil Mathew said his board opposes both initiatives on similar grounds.
“It would be a negative economic impact from either one,” Mathew said. “It would stifle investment dollars.
“People wouldn’t come here with projects knowing they might have to go to a popular vote” to build them.
The initiatives would also lengthen the development process, making projects take so long they might eventually become economically impossible to build, Mathew said.
Such projects as the building of the BriarPatch Co-Op Market and the recent expansion of the Diagnostic Imaging Center at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital would have needed voter approval had the requirements of the initiatives been in place at the time, according to the ERC.
“This would have drawn out the time frame, costing many thousands of dollars more and put at risk these improvements within the city,” the economic development group said.
Developers, including the one who built the Nevada City Tech Center, have said the Managed Growth Initiative would inhibit economic development.
The ballot box planning criticism also has been voiced by City Council members and city officials in recent months for the Managed Growth Initiative, because it could cause votes on projects needing land-use changes within the city’s sphere of influence.
The Nevada Joint Union High School District board also has indicated it will oppose Measure Z.
The City Council also has opposed the Limited Growth Initiative, fearing lawsuits and sprawl in the county. Cattaneo’s group denies this.
The Limited Growth Initiative offered by Mayor Mark Johnson, Dennis Cassella and Peggy Levine would restrict the number of housing units to 2,820 through 2020 and put boundary changes and annexations to a vote as well.
Mueller said the Chamber has also come out against the Limited Growth Initiative, because board members fear it would cause expensive lawsuits for the cash-strapped city.
Johnson said he doubted the Limited Growth Initiative would spawn lawsuits or costs to rise for developers.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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