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Supervisors toss unsealed ballots

Unsealed ballots from Dark Horse homeowners to reject a sewer rate increase were thrown out by the Nevada County Supervisors Tuesday, with a revote planned at a later date.

Board members said they were uncomfortable accepting the 88 opened ballots, which were mailed and brought to county offices by the homeowners in unsealed envelopes. The upscale subdivision is located near Lake of the Pines in south county.

“This violates the standard way of balloting,” said Board Chairman John Spencer. “We’ll attempt to do it again at a later date.”



None of the ballots were tampered with, said Dark Horse Homeowners Association Vice-President Eric Harvey. The homeowners simply hand-delivered most of the unsealed ballots to the county, because they feared they would be lost in the mail, he said.

The homeowners have the right to reject an increase in their sewer rates based on Prop. 218.




Harvey said the almost-ready Dark Horse sewer system is state-of-the-art, but homeowners did not want to pay another $307 per year for future replacement parts until it is completed. Sewer rates will now remain at $1,550 annually with Tuesday’s actions.

The next rate increase vote hinges on when the subdivision gets completed.

The board recalled $17.1 million in bonds from Dark Horse developers Ed and Chad Fralick on June 12 when it became clear the Fralicks no longer had the funds to do so. The developers owed $2.7 million in labor, materials and utility hook-up fees, and the estimated cost of completion was $692,000.

Part of the work includes $550,000 in water service fees owed to the Nevada Irrigation District and a 1,100 foot still-unbuilt pipe that is needed to connect the subdivision to a nearby NID main water line. The developer also owes $202,000 to PG&E that is needed for electricity hookups.

Developers have been hauling wastewater to the Lake of the Pines treatment plant for the past year while the project’s sewer treatment plant was being built.

The board approved a six-month extension Tuesday, pending payment of a $5,000 bill from the developers, as well as a $10,000 advance deposit to pay for the next six months of deliveries.

If the developers can’t pay right away, County Executive Officer Rick Haffey said wastewater deliveries would still be accepted at the Lake of the Pines plant at the county’s expense for the public’s safety.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@ theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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