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Nevada City challenges use of space

In a perfect economy, the building at 138 Mohawk Road in Nevada City would be home to light-industrial companies turning out things like circuit boards and other goods.

But the most notable high-tech tenant, TDK Semiconductor Corp., closed its doors in early 2002. So the owners of the 36,700-square-foot building, Lance and Julia Amaral, have been leasing space in the Gold Flat Center to nonprofit organizations, such as Sierra Adoption Services that moved in last August. Another nonprofit, Adult Day Services, moved in last October.

Such use, however, has spurred debate among Nevada City officials who argue that the zoning for the area is light industrial. Some city planning commissioners are concerned that occupying the city’s light-industrial center with nonprofit organizations will preclude new manufacturing outfits and subsequent tax revenue.



But Planning Commissioner Ruth Poulter, who served on a committee looking into the issue, said that the light industrial zoning allows for office professional use. She noted that of about 13 tenants in the area, only one is industrial.

“Our recommendation was we felt the (nonprofit) use was consistent with what is going on out there,” Poulter said.




Nevada City City Manager Mark Miller said the zoning issue is “under legal review,” limiting his ability to comment.

“I’m optimistic we will come up with an acceptable outcome,” Miller said. “We are definitely committed to working with our business owners.”

Lance Amaral also declined to discuss the issue in detail. He did say that when he acquired the building, almost a third of it was occupied by nonprofits, including the Nevada County Probation Office.

“The Planning Commission is addressing the issue,” he said.

Laurie Oberholtzer, chair of the Planning Commission, couldn’t be reached for comment.

While the commission approved the Adult Day Services move into the center, it was under a conditional-use permit. The commission will initiate a zoning clarification for the light-industrial district, which could restrict the uses allowed there.

But Poulter, who is running for a seat on the Nevada City City Council, said she didn’t agree with any move to limit what is allowed under the current zoning. The high-tech economy is shifting, she said, so building owners should be able to make adjustments.

“It’s just the evolution of the way things have gone,” Poulter said. “There is no reason to tighten these things up if we want Nevada City to be business-friendly.”


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