Steep-slope building ban relaxed |

Steep-slope building ban relaxed

Dave Moller

Contractors and owners of steep properties won a battle of sorts Tuesday when Nevada County supervisors voted to let homes be built on slopes of 30 percent or more on older lots.

Supervisor Barbara Green called the move “the Los Angelization of Nevada County” and voted against it. Green said the plan could lead to septic tanks leaking onto nearby properties and to an increase in wildfire dangers.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant also voted against the measure and said he wants a warning issued from the county building department that fire insurance may be hard to get for a home built on a steep slope.

Local builder Bruce Ivy differed with Van Zant.

“Slope restrictions are about stopping growth,” Ivy said in backing the plan.

Their vote ends the county’s ban on building homes on slopes of more than 30 percent for lots subdivided before Oct. 12, 1981.

Representing the Nevada County Contractors Association, attorney Jim Curtis said the board started to think about relaxing the ban on homes built on slopes of more than 30 percent last year.

“You wanted to let people develop their property,” Curtis said.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection area chief Tony Clarabut insisted the plan include provisions to keep brush and other fire fuels cleared around homes, and he got it. “Fire behavior is extremely accelerated on steep slopes,” Clarabut said.

As part of Supervisor Sue Horne’s motion of approval, the plan included provisions for clearing fuels 100 feet around homes in grasslands and 200 feet around those in brush and timber. Clarabut said the clearing did not mean removing 100 percent of the vegetation, but did require trimming limbs low to the ground, cutting grass and thinning brush.

Voting with Horne were supervisors Drew Bedwell and Robin Sutherland.

In other business, the board:

• Voted 3-1 to start a three-year pilot program allowing second dwellings to be built. The dwellings can be no larger than 1,000 square feet for detached units, with the same or no more than 30 percent of the floor area of the existing home for attached unit dwellings.

• Continued a discussion on raising building fees until June 1 at 1:30 p.m.

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