Step taken toward Wildwood Ridge subdivision despite some concerns
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The Wildwood Ridge housing project made progress Tuesday, despite drainage, traffic and fire escape concerns from nearby residents.
Officially, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the green-belt portion of the project to 80 acres from 50 acres. Board members also accepted a development agreement that ties them to the county general plan and the land use and development code.
But Supervisor Robin Sutherland, who represents the area directly north of Lake Wildwood where the 383-unit project sits, said she wants to revisit traffic and fire safety issues before approving the 206-acre development.
Although the county planning commission accepted the project Jan. 19, supervisors chairman Nate Beason reminded the board and those in attendance, “This is not a done deal when we walk out of here today.”
Lake Wildwood resident Lee Blakemore told the board that drainage from the uphill property will only make contamination problems worse in the lake.
“We’re very, very concerned and our lake is precious to us,” Blakemore said.
Blakemore said he and others were also concerned there are not enough escape routes in case of wildfire. “I don’t know how I’d get out of Lake Wildwood if there was a crisis situation during a fire,” Blakemore said.
“We know from the 49er Fire (in 1988) it was very difficult to get out,” said Holly Townsend, a member of the Lake Wildwood Board of Directors.
But developer Brian Masterman said he had an escape plan for his project and suggested points for escape from Lake Wildwood as well. County staff said drainage concerns might be addressed with catch ponds.
Masterman also talked more about the affordable housing portion of the project.
That part of the plan, which still must be approved by the planning commission, calls for 36 single and duplex units available to moderate, low and very low income earners for at least 10 years.
There would be six, one-bedroom units and six studio apartments that would be attached to garages and rent for $600 to $700 per month. Another 24 duplexes would be built scattered throughout the project that would be two or three bedroom and sell for $169,000 to $285,000, Masterman said.
The board also moved a public hearing regarding the formation of a Community Facilities District and its bonded indebtedness for the project to 2 p.m. on Feb. 28.
The development’s history dates back to 1968 and originally was part of the Lake Wildwood project. Three separate maps were drawn for subdividing the acreage, but it never got off the ground.
The project, eventually dubbed Wildwood Estates, failed in 1993 when the project’s lender foreclosed. One of the owners went to prison in connection with the financial fiasco involving county-issued bonds. A fourth map was drawn, but it also stalled.
In 1997, the county sued the new owner for back taxes, and a court ordered the property sold. The county brought in Los Angeles-based Stone & Youngberg, California’s leading underwriter of local government bonds. The investment company created a subsidiary, Wildwood Resolution LLC, to buy the property in 1999 for $10.
Stone & Youngberg also took up the failed $10 million bond issue, plus back taxes and other debt totaling nearly $1.5 million.
Masterman, president of subsidiary S&Y Capital Group LLC (which owns Wildwood Resolution) and the project developer, said he expects to restructure the old bond to $8 million or $9 million.
In January, supervisors voted to forgive $929,000 in penalties and interest. They still will require the developer to repay $600,000 in back taxes.
To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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