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South county housing gets OK

Wolf Creek Ranch Estates, a proposed 143-house development south of Lime Kiln Road, inched closer to groundbreaking Tuesday when its zoning was unanimously approved by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors could vote only on the zoning designations Tuesday; the project’s design was finalized by the Planning Commission in December after nearly a decade of negotiations.

Supervisor John Spencer, a previous planning commissioner, lauded the property owners, the Smith family, for sticking with the project for so many years.



“I’ve just got to hand it to you,” Spencer said.

In its final incarnation, the development near Highway 49 includes 137 large-lot houses, seven ranches, seven miles of public trails, and two public parks.




At many of the public meetings about the development over the years, numerous neighbors packed the chambers at Nevada County’s Rood Administrative Center.

But at Tuesday’s vote, only one neighbor, David Babitz, was present.

He called the project an “excellent example of what can happen when (everyone involved) works together.”

“Although it’s not perfect … it’s a very reasonable compromise,” Babitz said.

The compromise with the neighbors, however, dropped nearly 100 residential units from the plan, units that could have made the project more affordable, Supervisor Sue Horne said.

“This project will be a very, very expensive, high-cost project, and that saddens me,” Horne said.

She said it will not be affordable for most Nevada County residents and will attract people looking for exclusive retirement homes.

“This is what we are becoming in Nevada County,” Horne said.

Spencer attributed the expected high cost of the project to the drawn-out negotiations.

When 55 condominiums, in addition to the houses, were proposed, “our Planning Commission beat them up,” Spencer said.

“We are successful in turning every housing project into an expensive project,” Spencer said.

Before Wolf Creek Ranch Estates is developed, the property owners still need to acquire several permits and finalize maps with the county.


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