Nevada County supervisor says county benefits in waiver of fees for River Valley Bank
The realignment of Town Talk Road has been a headache for the president and CEO of River Valley Community Bank.
John Jelavich said he wants the new bank at 580 Brunswick Road to have vehicle access to Town Talk Road. He’s willing to pay some $90,000 to realign a portion of Town Talk for that access — money he said is in addition to the bank’s construction costs.
That realignment is expected to fix the problem intersection of Town Talk, Brunswick and Bubbling Wells roads.
Jelavich said he approached Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller, asking if the county could help absorb some of the cost of the road realignment.
“There’s a lot of other people that benefit from this being done other than us,” Jelavich said, adding moments later: “It’s just been a big headache for me.”
The Board of Supervisors last week voted 3-to-2, with Supervisors Richard Anderson and Heidi Hall opposing, directing county staff to develop an agreement calling for the waiver of fees or reimbursement of certain costs to the bank.
The issue will return Aug. 14 to supervisors for a vote.
Josh Pack, the county’s principal civil engineer, said fees for an easement abandonment permit, the Local Agency Formation Commission and Board of Equalization total around $4,000. Jelavich said it’s about another $4,800 for the county to dig up the old portion of Town Talk, which vehicles wouldn’t use after the road’s realignment.
That’s around $9,000 the county would give up in exchange for $90,000 in road work, Jelavich said.
“There’s no way that that intersection could have been corrected spending that amount of money,” He said of the $9,000. “It’s a no brainer.”
Homeowners in the area have complained for years about the intersection of Town Talk, Brunswick and Bubbling Wells roads.
Miller said he met with them in his first year as a supervisor. The homeowners worried about the danger of the intersection. People feared wrecks would happen.
The result was always the same, he said — the county lacked funds to fix the intersection. Property owners would continue to complain, nothing would occur and the cycle would continue.
Then Miller in early 2017 learned about the new bank. A project schematic showed the realignment of Town Talk.
He said it was a possible solution to a complex problem.
The complexity stems from the project resting in both the unincorporated county and Grass Valley. According to Pack, much of the project is in the city. Grass Valley has only required a vehicle entrance from Brunswick. The county, which has jurisdiction over the portion of Town Talk the bank wants to access, has made the Town Talk entrance contingent on either a traffic study or the road’s realignment.
The bank — which has encountered higher than expected costs — could forego its Town Talk entrance, only rely on the Brunswick access, and the county wouldn’t get its $90,000 realignment, Jelavich said.
“In the end, it’s going to be really good,” Jelavich added. “We’re here for the long run. We want to be good neighbors.”
YubaNet in an opinion piece questioned Miller for failing to disclose during the July 17 meeting certain campaign donations he’s received from people connected to the bank project.
Sierra Foothills Construction Company is building the bank. Keoni Allen, president of Sierra Foothills, also is chairman of the Nevada County Contractors’ Association Political Action Committee. That committee donated almost $6,000 to Miller’s campaign this year.
Michael Vasquez, a former senior vice president with River Valley Community Bank, donated $200 to Miller’s campaign this year. After he made those donations the bank rehired him as senior vice president, special projects officer. In that capacity he’ll help with relocating the bank, currently on Sutton Way, to its new location.
In 2017 the Political Action Committee gave $2,000 to Miller. Dale Creighton — owner of SCO Planning Engineering & Surveying, which is involved in the project — gave $198.
Miller said the contributions he’s received have no connection to the bank project. The people and Political Action Committee contributed because he supports the trades, he said.
If someone believes the donations “look and smell funny,” it’s because they want to believe it, Miller said.
“You make decisions based on what you feel is best for the public,” Miller said.
During the July 17 meeting CEO Rick Haffey and Anderson questioned the county setting a precedent by waiving or reimbursing fees. Miller this week argued the county already has by spending $350,000 on an environmental report for a cannabis grow ordinance. Growers, Miller said, could be forced to pay for their own individual environmental reports.
Anderson declined comment when contacted. Hall, who also opposed staff developing an agreement for the bank, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Reaching a vote after lengthy discussion, supervisors quickly made their decisions. Supervisor Ed Scofield paused briefly before casting the deciding vote in favor.
“I’m just going to go with a little common sense here,” Scofield said. “For 10 grand we can take care of an issue. I’m going to vote yes.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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