Nevada County supervisors OK revised plan for retirement housing
The Rincon del Rio project has been green lighted by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors by unanimous vote.
The South County project is comprised of single-family cottages and bungalows, five-plex and 14-plex condos, residential loft multi-tenant condos and a group home memory assisted living facility. The plan was originally approved April 9, 2013.
This modified plan now includes a complex on a 215-acre site. The buildings occupy just 48 acres, with 167 acres of open space. Also included are a village center, which comprises walking trails, a community garden, aquatic center, tennis and bocce ball courts, as well as a pickle ball area.
Matt Kelley, senior planner for Nevada County, said the modified general plan includes 345 units that will have a cap of 415 residents. The main difference in the modified plan was some of the buildings were relocated on the site.
Brian Foss, planning director, said there are no environmental impacts identified.
“Traffic on Highway 49 in both directions can safely proceed as well as traffic from Lake of Pines, based on the original (Environmental Impact Report),” he said.
Not everybody was assured that necessary safety precautions were provided for. Bill Fortier and his wife Kristina are homeowners at Lake of the Pines, just a half mile from the Rincon complex. Bill Fortier, who provided comment at the Tuesday meeting, threw doubt on whether the modified plan was viable.
“I don’t believe any firefighter would move to del Rio, and not recognize the fire trap it is,” he stressed. “And 65 mile per hour traffic on Highway 49 creates a death trap similar to the Paradise Fire.”
Kristina Fortier also expressed dismay.
“I’m not opposed to more homes, but I’m opposed to the location,” said Kristina. “It is a two-prong deathtrap with Highway 49 and Rincon Way as the exit and entry points for traffic coming from Placer County, and Rincon Way is the gateway to Nevada County.”
And because the traffic pattern can challenge the best of drivers, Kristina said, they cannot rely on Rincon Way as an evacuation route in case an emergency forces an evacuation. The alternate route is Rodeo Flat and Combie roads, which are too narrow to accommodate a mass evacuation if a fire came from a westerly direction.
Another South County resident who objected to the modified plan was William Abbot. He maintained that he and his wife supported the original 2013 project. That proposal was supposed to provide a Continuum of Care Residential Center (CCRC). The goal, he said, was to provide sit care for those 55 years old and older for the next 30 years, or the end of their life.
“They’d take you up to hospice once you needed it,” said Abbot. “But now it’s a senior retirement community, not a CCRC. We’re not against what was proposed in 2013. But nothing has changed, except their business model.”
Supervisor Heidi Hall said it is clear the county needs more affordable housing, yet it is unclear how much of Rincon will be considered affordable.
“Overall, I am pleased to see thoughtful housing projects like this move forward,” said Hall. “I know the applicants worked hard to find compromises, so the project provides adequate mitigation for its impacts.”
Supervisor Dan Miller was also enthusiastic. The applicant asked the right questions, Miller said. The proposed modifications do not create adverse impacts.
“It remains to be seen how affordable the units will be,” he said. “I think the road system in the project promotes a neighborhood feel for the residents, and is conducive to being pedestrian friendly and still allows access for emergency vehicles required by county code. I still view the 55+ community with memory center a vital component. The state will be monitoring the CCRC to make sure they are in compliance with all regulations.”
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
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