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Town would border county

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A “new town” with the same population as Marysville may be built a couple of miles from Nevada County’s doorstep.

Roseville developer Gary Gallelli proposes building Yuba Highlands, a 5,100-unit housing, golf course and commercial development on 2,900 acres east of Beale Air Force Base and south of Hammonton-Smartville Road.

It’s projected population is 13,000. Construction could start in four years.



“Hopefully, it will be affordable,” Gallelli said. “It’s difficult to (state a housing price) this early in the game because of the costs entailed in creating the infrastructure.”

Those costs would include a treatment plant to purify water piped in from a well in the Yuba Goldfields, a 10,000-acre expanse of hydraulic gold-mining tailings along the Yuba River.




Yuba Highlands also would have to build its own sewage treatment plant or work out a deal to upgrade and share the existing sewage treatment plant at Beale.

The Yuba County Board of Supervisors recently approved preparation of an environmental impact report for Yuba Goldfields. The report should be available for public comment in a couple months, said Pete Calarco, Yuba County’s principal planner.

Gallelli cited a number of reasons why the proposed development is environmentally friendly: It’s above the flood plain, the land is marginal for grazing, and it’s not using up productive farm land or cutting down oaks – 2,600 acres are free of trees. Houses will be clustered on 2,900 acres, which is less than 1 percent of Yuba County’s total acreage.

“I think the best thing that we can do … to manage the sprawl is kind of cluster it in developments like this, instead of cut (land) up into five-acre lots,” Gallelli said.

Nevada County environmentalist Richard Thomas is concerned that Yuba Highlands might have a negative impact on the adjacent Spenceville State Wildlife and Recreation Area.

Thomas, chairman of the group Friends of Spenceville, emphasized he hasn’t had time to review the plans for the development.

But, he said, “I can’t imagine how this is smart growth or good for Spenceville. Part of smart growth to me is development where people are less dependent on gasoline and long commutes.”

Gallelli said the bulk of the residents will work in Lincoln, Roseville and Rocklin. He also thinks buyers would include civilian and military workers from Beale. Currently, 1,700 Beale employees live off the base, he said, and that number is expected to increase to 2,400 or 2,500 once Beale’s new unmanned spy plane program gets under way.

Yuba Highland’s 27-hole golf course would likely attract retirees as home buyers, he said.

Gallelli said he and his investors began buying the acreage in 1990. “We own the land. There’s a little bit of debt on it, not much,” he said.

Gallelli won’t build houses; instead, he’ll sell lots to builders.

He envisions a scenario like the 10,075-home Twelve Bridges development in Lincoln, where developers sold lots to big builders such as Del Webb Corp. and Pulte Homes.

The builders would decide how large the houses would be and how much they would cost.

“There would be – you’d get a range – it depends on the builder and what they think they could sell,” Gallelli said.


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