Ordinance would retain city’s mining flavor | TheUnion.com

Ordinance would retain city’s mining flavor

Guidelines and a law to retain Grass Valley’s historic look are expected in about 18 months after the City Council hired a consultant to craft them this week.

How much control the city will have over historic buildings in the 370 acres of the original 1872 Townsite including and surrounding downtown remains to be seen, according to Joe Heckel, the city’s community development director.

The scrutiny level will be addressed by the City Council and the public after a Placerville-based consultant surveys and inventories 1,928 buildings, Heckel said.

“The town is built on history, but we don’t have a solid survey on what’s historic and what’s not,” Heckel said. “The intent is not to stop demolition of buildings but to protect the historic look of buildings.”

Nevada City has a strict historic preservation ordinance and a planning commission notorious for enforcing it down to minor details.

Heckel did not refer to Grass Valley’s sister city but said the eventual law and guidelines for Grass Valley probably would have some wiggle room.

“Some towns regulate paint colors,” Heckel said. “I don’t think (Grass Valley) wants to go there. I think it would be more like: how do you modify a house and keep the historic flavor intact.”

$40K project

The historic law and guidelines have been evolving for a long time, said Howard Levine, executive director of the Downtown Association and historic building owner. It started with the creation of the historic district downtown in 1971 and the downtown design review manual in 1981, he said.

“This is an extension of that,” Levine said. “Some consider it an elitist perception, but it helps everybody maintain their property values. I want to see that it would be affordable. Grass Valley is a working-class community.”

Consultant Dana Supernowicz of Placerville was a good fit because he has done similar historic work in the Sierra Gold Country, said city historical subcommittee member Teresa Poston.

The consultant’s Historical Resource Associates will initially be paid $25,000 for an historical context report and inventory survey of the old town center. The city plans to pay his firm another $15,000 to draft a historical preservation ordinance and guidelines next year if the money is available.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

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