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Rising from the ashes

A landmark and informal community center for 70 years, the Cedar Ridge Market appears poised to rise from the ashes.

Owners will go before Nevada County planning commissioners next month with their proposal to rebuild the market on Highway 174 east of Grass Valley that was consumed last summer in an alleged arson blaze.

Owner Surjit Singh has proposed a tan-colored, 4,500-square-foot store with a dark green, corrugated metal roof. Hours are expected to be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.



Singh is asking for a development permit for the store and a use permit to build a 4,000-square-foot house on the property.

Details on environmental, water and parking considerations for the project are available for public review at the Nevada County Planner’s Office until March 31; they are in a document called a proposed mitigated negative declaration. The county zoning administrator will review the project April 7.




Since 1939, the market has served Cedar Ridge residents and passersby. But the store and a small, second-story apartment along Highway 174 burned down July 12, 2009. Nobody was injured in the fire.

The Singh family, from Indiana, moved to the area and purchased the property shortly before the fire – but vowed they would rebuild.

Alfredo Rafael Torres, who is suspected of torching the landmark, was in court Friday for a pre-trial conference, which was continued to Monday. A trial has been set for May 4.

Torres, a transient, also faces two pending misdemeanor cases.

In one, he is charged with being drunk in public, removing a telephone line and violating probation.

In the second, he faces charges of having an open container or marijuana while driving, driving on a suspended license, driving without a backup light, lack of insurance and violation probation.

He is being held in county jail in lieu of $80,000 bail.

Torres, 21, has pleaded not guilty to arson of an inhabited structure, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted vehicle theft, vandalism and being under the influence of methamphetamine.

Torres allegedly was in the garage behind the building, trying to break into several vehicles, when the fire was discovered at about 4 a.m. that day.

He allegedly became combative when confronted, throwing items at firefighters and kicking out the back window of a Nevada County sheriff’s cruiser.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail mrindels@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4247.


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