Nevada County supervisors OK Alta Sierra, Penn Valley Dollar General; deny Rough and Ready store | TheUnion.com

Nevada County supervisors OK Alta Sierra, Penn Valley Dollar General; deny Rough and Ready store

Reversing a decision of the Planning Commission, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday indicated they'd approve a Dollar General store in Alta Sierra.

Supervisors opted to follow the Planning Commission's decisions for two other Dollar General sites — allowing one in Penn Valley and forbidding another in Rough and Ready.

The supervisors' 3-to-2 vote to allow the 9,100-square-foot store at 10166 Alta Sierra Drive contradicted a staff report calling for the store's denial. Because of that staff must revise the report. Supervisors are expected on March 13 to cast a final vote on the Alta Sierra store.

"I think that this would be something that's an addition to that area," said Supervisor Ed Scofield, whose district includes Alta Sierra. "I wouldn't mind it being there."

Supervisors Dan Miller and Richard Anderson sided with Scofield. Supervisors Heidi Hall and Hank Weston opposed.

"This doesn't really fit the character of this area," Hall said.

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Attorney Don Mooney, who represents a woman who appealed the projects' environmental impact report, said it's unknown whether he'll appeal to Nevada County Superior Court.

Joshua Simon — founder and CEO of SimonCRE, the developer — declined comment.

Tuesday's public discussion and board votes stemmed from three appeals filed in response to the Planning Commission's October decisions on the three Dollar General stores. County staff initially recommended approval for the Alta Sierra and 17652 Penn Valley Drive sites. They recommended denial of the 12345 Rough and Ready Highway site.

Planning commissioners followed staff recommendations for Penn Valley and Rough and Ready. However, they denied the Alta Sierra site, leading staff to rewrite their report.

Staff now will again rewrite a report for Alta Sierra to reflect the board's Tuesday vote.

The developer

Simon argued county staff's initial report about the Alta Sierra site supports the business at that site, a contradiction to the Planning Commission's decision to deny it.

"Dollar General is not the old, ugly, 99-cent store," Simon said. "Dollar General is a Main Street-type store for rural communities. I have personally spent $1 million of my own money to be able to sit in front of you on these three projects."

Simon then addressed the Planning Commission's findings of inconsistency — points it used to deny the Alta Sierra store. Simon pointed out how the staff report supports the project where commissioners found fault.

Any commercial development would cause a significant impact, Simon said, because the land is vacant. Dollar General is a logical expansion of the existing shopping center.

"The Alta Sierra Market is, in fact, larger than our proposed building," Simon said. "Trader Joe's is 50 percent larger than Dollar General. If everything had to be developed on flat land, we wouldn't be sitting here today."

Public comment

Robin Voigt dismissed Simon's argument about his $1 million personal investment, calling it the cost of doing business and a price Dollar General can bear.

"I want to remind these guys," Voigt said, indicating SimonCRE staff. "(The Supervisors have) the authority to deny these guys for any reason."

Charisse Lolli, who appealed the environmental impact report, said an Alta Sierra Dollar General would create traffic and accidents.

"We support the businesses we want, not the businesses the developers want to put in," she added.

Lolli also attacked the Rough and Ready site, asking supervisors to consider that property's future if Dollar General were to one day leave it.

Discussing the Penn Valley site, Maureen Collins expressed concern over fire and traffic safety. She acknowledged the Penn Valley project is zoned properly, though she worries the store would negatively impact area traffic.

"What is the bigger picture for Penn Valley and mitigating the safety of traffic issues?" she asked.

Sarah Hatten told supervisors the environmental impact report failed to examine all aspects of traffic.

Brian Foss, the county's Planning Department director, said the environmental report addressed traffic concerns at all three sites.

"It has been taken into account," he said.

A handful of people supported the Alta Sierra store. Michael Brady, who said he owns a business in the area, said people are no longer drawn to the shopping center.

"We're so close to shutting down because there's no business in that shopping center," he said. "This is ridiculous to stall this."

Lee French asked whether supervisors should rezone the site, which currently allows commercial activity, and ensure no development can occur.

"I think what we're having here is a lot of emotional backlash," French said. "The way we are approaching this — we are destroying this area."

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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