Joyce Hoffman: With Grass Valley’s approach, how long will our ‘home’ last? |

Joyce Hoffman: With Grass Valley’s approach, how long will our ‘home’ last?

The Grass Valley Planning Commission wimped out by succumbing to the pressure of the true leader of our little city, Michael G. Colantuono. He is the attorney hired by the Grass Valley City Council to, seemingly, help in their efforts to completely Rosevillize Grass Valley.

The Grass Valley City Council’s mantra is “annex, build and develop land into taxable assets.” Their master planner is Mr. Colantuono who almost single-handedly dictated the decisions made recently by the planning commission.

Neighbors stated their misgivings at the recent meeting about two parcels, once owned by the George family and now, unfortunately, owned by a real estate/developer named Wilkie who wants to maximize his earnings by subdividing two parcels into four. The problem is, the land is riddled with mining trash; sits on one of the steepest hills in downtown Grass Valley and happens to be the beloved neighborhood of longtime residents and Grass Valley visitors.

Members of the planning commission hemmed and hawed and visibly squirmed at the thought of approving this monstrous subdivision.

What the Grass Valley City Council really is concerned with is bringing in more tax money by building, building, building more homes!

However, they relented to the stern interjections of Mr. Colantuono who deftly pronounced a solution for every obstacle that was brought up for development. Lifetime residents talked about the habitual dumping of oils, garbage, furniture and cars into a large mine shaft that’s been covered with earth. Is that going to be a problem for future houses being built on the site? According to Mr. Colantuono, no. He thinks that the shafts are miles and miles below us and “by now the garbage is probably somewhere else.” Shouldn’t somebody with experience in geography, environmental toxicology and mining be the expert here?

None of us who live on Washington Hill ever saw a posted permit for Wilkie to take down the many trees that once served as home for natural habitat. The starkness of what is left behind is shocking. But he wants to increase the number of parcels and sell them, never having lived in this neighborhood, but breaking it apart before making his exit.

Our planning commissioners kowtowed to the advice of Mr. Colantuono on every concern they had. But what about the steepness? How about the blind curves and narrow streets? And, of course, what about the enjoyment people get from walking through what is probably Grass Valley’s last bit of country township? The last resort for seeing historic neighborhoods with natural wildlife and a few surviving historic heritage homes?

No matter! What the Grass Valley City Council really is concerned with is bringing in more tax money by building, building, building more homes! It’s as if we had a civil duty to give up heritage and sentimental memories in order to bring in the money that the city coffers demand. And, what does the city do with that money? I don’t know. Our street hasn’t been properly paved in the 16 years we’ve lived here. Our sewer and water pipes are antiques. So what do they do with our taxes?

I don’t see any hope for maintaining historic personality or small-town civility when our city is run by a city/corporate attorney and a city council made up of solely business owners, and a planning commission who has at least one member, Ms. Cookson, who gets a “warm and fuzzy feeling” from the thought of new homes being infilled into the last remnant of green land. This is the same person who wanted the Dorsey Drive mega-commercial market so that she would have a place to take her kids and grandmother to have a picnic by a fountain surrounded by cement.

At the end of the evening’s segment of the application to subdivide two parcels into four, the planning commission approved it. The developer and engineer shook hands and hastened away with their victory.

The city staff maintained their status quo “damn the environment, let’s build” attitude and the residents who will be affected the most went home to their humble abodes in the trees wondering how long will our “home” last?

Joyce Hoffman lives in Grass Valley.

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