Supervisors debate rules on paving rural roads |

Supervisors debate rules on paving rural roads

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors was faced Tuesday with yet another dilemma on how to manage inevitable growth in rural areas.

Resident Bill Sheatsley asked to keep a 950-foot road leading to three clustered lots on Mooney Flat Road unpaved.

An asphalt road is “contradictory to the spirit and intention of clustering,” Sheatsley said. He says he wants to maintain the rural nature of the area.

Development plans to create three clustered lots with a commonly owned, 114-acre, open-space area were approved by the zoning administrator May 21.

County fire-safety rules require that the road leading up to the three lots be paved because it exceeds a 10 percent slope. Fire officials are skeptical because of concerns about access to the three properties with an unimproved road.

After a 2-2 split vote, the board decided to compromise with the hopes that perhaps Sheatsley can work out a plan with fire officials that is more fire-safe and up to code.

Supervisors Robin Sutherland and Sue Horne voted to deny Sheatsley’s appeal, with supervisors Peter Van Zant and Barbara Green in support.

Van Zant compared this issue to some of the fire concerns that were raised by property rights advocates about being allowed to build homes on 30-percent slopes. This time, however, Sutherland and Horne are on the other side, both citing concerns about fire safety, he said.

Horne said she trusted the wisdom of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Sutherland said she was concerned that a vote of support would possibly allow for many other appeals to begin rolling in.

At least 100 people have gone through this same process that Sheatsley must go through to develop the three clustered lots, and Sutherland said it “should be considered a cost of development. Where do you draw the line?”

“I’m not feeling that this particular case will be precedent-setting,” Van Zant said.

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