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Wildwood signs create conflict

John HartLake Wildwood Association may replace its wooden sign with granite monuments, but some people don't like the idea.
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As a sign of the times, the Lake Wildwood homeowners association has proposed a new look for the entrance.

But there seems to be a disagreement about whether Lake Wildwood, which started as a weekend cabin retreat, should stay rustic or go upscale.

The Lake Wildwood Association envisions twin 5,000-pound granite monuments to replace two wooden signs that mark the entrances to the gated community.



But not everybody likes the sleek, upscale-looking, black granite signs with yellow lettering, selected by the association’s board after more than a year of study.

Some Lake Wildwood residents have compared the granite monuments to tombstones. A county planner says the signs don’t look rustic enough because they don’t have the right earth tones.




County associate planner Kai Luoma says the proposed monuments aren’t compatible with the community or existing structures in Lake Wildwood.

Many of the surrounding structures emphasize the rustic character of the area, using wood siding, timber supports and river rock accents, wrote Luoma in his report. Those structures include nearby stores and wooden guardhouses near the location of the proposed monuments.

Luoma recommended that the Nevada County Planning Commission veto the proposed 4-foot-high monuments, which, at 12 feet long, are roughly half the size of the current wooden signs. On Thursday, the commission continued the matter to Nov. 14.

Lake Wildwood was designed in 1968 as a weekend resort for Bay Area residents. It has become a wealthy, gated retirement community, noted for its 300-acre lake and residents driving golf carts on the roads to and from the links.

Lake Wildwood had the oldest population in Nevada County in 1999, with a median age of 54.7, U.S. Census figures show.

And while it may be rustic, it also has one of the highest income levels in the county, according to the Census. In 1999, the Lake Wildwood area had a median income of $55,285, exceeded only by Alta Sierra and Truckee.

Not surprisingly, the association board’s president and some Lake Wildwood residents don’t agree with the “rustic” characterization of the community.

The granite signs reflect where the community is going, said association president Phil Damask during the Thursday planning hearing.

“What was fine in 1968 – where a new development needed high-visibility signs with advertising to attract potential buyers – is no longer needed now that our community is over 90 percent built out,” said Damask. “What our residents now want is an attractive sign to welcome their selves and their guests to a special place that they call home.”

And granite also lasts for many years, requiring no maintenance. The community replaced its wooden golf course hole markers with granite ones.

After the hearing, Damask said the association will work with Luoma to convince the planner that the design does fit within county guidelines.

Other Lake Wildwood residents supported Damask’s upscale vision during the hearing.

Developer Boise Cascade envisioned weekend homes, but many have been torn down, said resident Marguerite Leipzig. Now there are many stucco homes and modern designs.

Bob Christensen said the community is looking for something more subtle and elegant-looking, “as our homes and places have become.”

The new monuments’ detractors include resident Bob Albrecht, who said the new monument isn’t in a rural style.

This area is mountain country, he said. “We don’t want to look at something that looks like a monument or cemetery for an elephant or hippopotamus.”

Barbara Spink also doesn’t like it. She said it should be put up to a community vote.

“Why go for a concrete slab that looks like a cemetery?” asked Spink, who lamented that money is lavished on the golf course, but the association won’t spend $30,000 for a cover to keep the pool open year-round, which would provide exercise and health benefits.


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