Once praised, Loma Rica project now panned | TheUnion.com

Once praised, Loma Rica project now panned

At one time considered an ideal development by those who favor clustered housing and open space, the latest incarnation of the proposed Loma Rica Ranch project now is drawing criticism.

The 452-acre property east of Grass Valley is proposed for mixed use, with residential properties of various sizes, retail space and a business park. Originally, about 70 percent of the property was slated to be open space.

But years of studies, public hearings and fretting by some over the specter of increased traffic – coupled with the continuing recession – have forced the developer to revise his course.

The proposal once praised for its innovative vision for future growth in the Sierra Nevada now looks more like what some would call rural sprawl, with larger lots, less affordable housing and fewer trails in reduced open space.

Changes to the project were inevitable, said developer Phillip Carville, of Sierra Carville Inc. First submitted seven years ago, the original proposal has been altered due to rising costs, Carville said.

“When we submitted the application for the project, it was done by some of the pre-eminent land planners in the country,” Carville said. “Some people called the project perfect.

“The plan has evolved since then,” he added. “By delaying it so long, you make it financially difficult to hold to the plan.”

The original design from 2004 had included a variety of lots and housing at different income levels. It also included a clubhouse for all residents next to MacBoyle Lake; now, the little lake is entirely surrounded by residential lots for the well-heeled.

“It’s sad and a betrayal of a good vision for this community,” said Steve Enos, a Grass Valley resident and former City Council member who has been critical of many developments in town, but supported this one.

A draft environmental impact report is expected to reach the Planning Commission sometime in April, Carville said.

Planning Commission Chair Jason Fouyer had no comments on the changes to the Loma Rica plan, but said he is anxious to see the draft EIR. The report is expected to include assessments of public safety response times to the proposed development, which Fouyer said are important to any approval given by the city’s Planning Commission.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

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