Settlement reached over NC hotel |

Settlement reached over NC hotel

A proposed Nevada City hotel will shrink and Nevada City will consider changing some planning procedures after a settlement that clears the way for construction of the facility.

Friends of Nevada City dropped its appeal Tuesday after reaching a settlement agreement with Nevada City and S.S.&G. LLC, the developer of a hotel proposed for a 1.7-acre site on Hollow Way. The appeal was filed Dec. 10.

P. Scott Browne, an attorney for Friends of Nevada City, said they appealed a judge’s Oct. 18 decision upholding the city’s approval of the hotel. Friends of Nevada City first filed suit in Nevada County Superior Court in November 2000 to reverse the approval, contending the approval process was inadequate.

Browne said that after the appeal was filed, Friends of Nevada City was approached by the city and the developers, which led to talks.

Browne said they found enough common ground to come up with a settlement the Friends of Nevada City could live with while retaining some of the protections they were seeking.

A statement by the group said the settlement calls for a larger, 22-foot-wide landscaped buffer along Highway 49, a reduction in the hotel’s size from 72 to 68 rooms, and a written certificate of compliance with city fire access and safety requirements.

As part of the settlement, Nevada City is also required to consider changes to its planning process.

If approved by the City Council, the changes would require notice by the city to neighbors of projects under consideration by the Advisory Review Committee, and require the city to consider a project’s fire safety measures before granting approval, according to Friends of Nevada City.

The city will have to consider new language in its design guidelines for protection of the city’s scenic corridor. Changing the guidelines would require a General Plan amendment and public testimony.

Development applications will also have to be more complete, according to Friends of Nevada City.

The group will get $50,000 for legal expenses. City Attorney Jim Anderson said the funds will come from the hotel’s developers.

Anderson said the Friends of Nevada City really wanted the proposed changes, and the city is only required to consider them, not adopt them.

“We felt like it was a very reasonable request,” said Anderson. “No matter which way it went, it wouldn’t be a major issue or a major cost.”

Anderson said the city had considered changing its Advisory Review Committee before the settlement. The committee has always had Planning Commission members on it, which differs from what many communities are now doing.

If adopted, costs of the measures to the city would be minor, said Anderson.

The city has spent $52,000 on attorney’s fees to fight the lawsuit, and has also lost out on over $100,000 a year in transient occupancy taxes it would have collected if the hotel had already been built, said Anderson.

John Bilheimer and Richard Ellers, attorneys representing developer S.S.&G LLC, could not be reached for comment.

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