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NC planners OK attached garage

The first house in a new subdivision off American Hill Road may soon be built.

The Nevada City City Council on Monday unanimously overturned the Planning Commission and approved plans to build a house with a two-car attached garage on one of the 20 lots off American Hill, possibly averting a lawsuit against the city.

In exchange, Norm Nielsen of Grass Valley agreed to eliminate a turret and several windows that the Planning Commission did not want.



Nielsen, who initially wanted to build an attached four-car garage, also managed to earn approval for a storage building, which council members variously referred to as a “garage,” an “accessory building” and a “shop.”

The building will be used to store a 14-foot boat and an antique vehicle, Nielsen said.




“The whole thing about compromise is that nobody gets exactly what they want,” Nevada City Vice Mayor Kerry Arnett said Tuesday. The City Council sided with Nielsen to avoid a lawsuit, he said.

Before the vote, Councilman Conley Weaver said Nielsen’s latest plans greatly reduce the apparent size of the building. The new plan works, he told Nielsen, who was sitting next to his lawyer.

Planning commissioner Evans Phelps, who had turned down Nielsen’s plans in part because the house looked too massive, said she understood the City Council’s position.

“The council made the right choice,” she said Tuesday. “I’m glad they came to a consensus.”

The Nielsen’s house will be the first one built in the 8.37 acre subdivision.

Christine Foster, a real estate broker for Erickson Realty Ltd. of Beaverton, Ore., who owns a lot in the new subdivision, predicted Tuesday other projects should be coming forward. Foster said will build a house in four to five years.

Erickson owns the adjacent 13 acres; 11 of those 13 acres are in escrow, Foster said.

The potential buyer is Berkeley-based The CoHousing Co., a company that builds townhouses with large common areas. The idea, born in Denmark, is called “co-housing.”

The CoHousing Co. could build 34 units in Nevada City, said co-founder Charles Durrett in a telephone interview Tuesday. Durrett said his company has 150 co-housing projects in the planning stage.

Over 12 years, the company has received 70 to 80 inquiries from Nevada City residents, he said.

The 13-acre site CoHousing may purchase is where a Clovis-based developer sought permission to build an 80-unit apartment complex last year. That project was set aside after the proposal whipped up a storm of protest in Nevada City.

Erickson then proposed a 34-house subdivision. But preliminary meetings with city officials did not go well, Foster said.

“We weren’t going anywhere with our project” then CoHousing came along.


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