Yuba Charter persists in attempt to build Grass Valley school | TheUnion.com

Yuba Charter persists in attempt to build Grass Valley school

Officials with the Yuba River Charter School have not given up their effort to construct a new 23,000-square-foot, $8.5 million school on a 16-acre site near the intersection of Rough and Ready Highway and Adam Avenue in Grass Valley.

In July, the board declined to approve the project, citing a lack of thoroughness by the applicant and planning staff.

Since, the charter school has revised and/or augmented several aspects of its project application, including the traffic study, drainage, septic design, the potential to connect to Grass Valley’s wastewater treatment facility and fencing requirements designed to appease neighbors wary of the project.

“The applicant is revising the traffic study to provide updated traffic counts on the roadways and recalculating the traffic model to correctly account for the school not operating at the Bitney Springs site as the original traffic study has presumed,” said County Executive Officer Rick Haffey in the weekly memo.

“With the new location, we’ll be able to have a playground, outdoor spaces, a lot more parking, solar power and all new buildings, so it will be much more efficient to run.”
Caleb Buckley
director of Yuba River Charter

The traffic study will expand to analyze additional intersections to verify the claims that the school will have limited impacts on school traffic in other parts of the neighborhood, the memo states. The applicant will also pay to have an independent professional analyze the proposed septic design.

Residents living on Adam Avenue are downhill from the project and have used public hearings to express concern that a septic tank is inadequate to service a large school.

Many residents also fret that a breach could occur during a major storm and all properties directly downhill would be inundated with wastewater.

Supervisor Nate Beason used the July meeting to urge Yuba River Charter school to further explore connecting into the Grass Valley Wastewater Treatment facility, as the county has repeatedly encouraged new projects to connect to existing sewage infrastructure. Haffey’s memo states the applicant is in the process of compiling a more detailed cost estimate regarding the price of connection.

Responding to some neighbor’s claims that a natural springs exists on the property, a biologist has been hired, the memo states.

Another persistent concern lodged by attendees to county meetings revolves around drainage, with neighbors asserting flooding could occur if more impervious surface is implemented on the property.

Haffey said the applicant has vowed to study the issue along with exploring establishing fencing to protect children from horses maintained by a neighboring property owner.

The northernmost 3-acre portion of the site was once part of the Kenny Ranch project and housed Grass Valley’s burn dump in the mid-1950s.

The site currently features contaminated soil with a high concentration of lead. Cleanup of the hazardous materials is included in the proposal for development of the site, said Tod Herman, Nevada County senior planner.

Remediation activities are slated to include removing contaminated soil, hauling it to an approved disposal site and capping the disturbed area, all of which will be monitored by the Department of Toxic Substances.

Yuba Charter was recently awarded $600,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency as part of $62.5 million in funds awarded to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties nationwide.

“It’s crucial for making sure we can clean up the site,” said Caleb Buckley, director of Yuba River Charter. “This long-term dump site will finally get cleaned up.”

Yuba River Charter currently occupies the former Nevada City Elementary building and has an annual lease agreement with the Nevada City School District. Yuba River expects to move into the new location June 2015 and plans to extend its three-year lease with the Nevada City School District, which is set to expire June 2014.

“Right now, we’re confined to a city block with black top,” Buckley said. “With the new location, we’ll be able to have a playground, outdoor spaces, a lot more parking, solar power and all new buildings, so it will be much more efficient to run.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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