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Rincon Del Rio construction cleared to begin in spring

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

The consummation of a legal agreement between developers of the Rincon Del Rio project, Nevada County and a coalition of South County citizens means construction can begin on the recently approved retirement community in the spring.

Nevada County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green said the recently cinched agreement will result in “very minor modifications to the conditions for approval.”

“They wanted to clarify some of the conditions,” Barratt-Green said. “This will allow the project to proceed, so we are very pleased.”

The publicly released parts of the agreement stipulate development will be restricted to the 345 units designed to serve a maximum population of 415 residents, clustered on a 40-acre envelope located on the western portion of the property.

“Every principled bone in my body ached at having to sign that document, but some people are actually counting on this project for jobs and homes,”
Carol Young
Rincon Del Rio developer

Also, the development will remain age-restricted, for senior residents aged 55 and older, and the property will not be altered to serve any other purpose than a continuing care community.

Other stipulations relate to the use of a fire road that filters out onto Rodeo Flat Road. The fire gate will be locked to prevent traffic from using the road as a shortcut and construction traffic will have to enter via Rincon Way.

“We were able to find resolutions which made the controversial situation palatable for all concerned,” said Karen Abbott, a member of Keep Nevada County Rural.

Keep Nevada County Rural — comprised of property owners in proximity to the proposed construction site — filed suit on May 15, alleging the county failed to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Carol Young, the developer of Rincon Del Rio, said CEQA is abused by people who are more concerned with keeping widely beneficial projects out of their neighborhood and less concerned with the environment.

Young said she only signed the agreement for practical reasons.

“Every principled bone in my body ached at having to sign that document, but some people are actually counting on this project for jobs and homes,” she said.

Abbott expressed relief at moving on.

“(The agreement) allows us all to finally put the matter to rest and move on with our lives while the Youngs move on to develop their project,” Abbott said.

The Nevada County board of supervisors initially approved Rincon Del Rio on April 9 after a series of marathon public hearings and meetings, where hundreds of residents and experts spoke in advance of the 4-1 decision (Supervisor Richard Anderson dissented).

Supervisors lamented the subsequent lawsuit, with Chairman Hank Weston quipping, “Lawsuits are just part of the process now.”

The time lapse between the approval and the legal settlement was comparatively short compared to another South County project.

In 2009, Fred Katz, owner of Roseville-based FHK Properties, obtained approval to begin construction on a project that included plans to build an approximately 57,000-square-foot supermarket, originally slated as a Bel Air Market, flanked by smaller retail structures on a 20-acre lot behind the CVS Pharmacy at Combie Road and Highway 49.

However, a lawsuit filed by a group called South County Citizens for Smart Growth filed in September 2009 has halted progress on the project.

The lawsuit, which alleged the county and the developer violated the California Environmental Quality Act on multiple fronts during the project approval process, was decided in favor of the county in August 2011.

A subsequent appeal was denied by the Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento, bringing an end to the four-year legal process.

Rincon Del Rio is scheduled to be located one-half mile east of Highway 49, just south of the Lake of the Pines community.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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