Charisse Lolli: Denial of Dollar General in Nevada County based on facts, not feelings
The Union recently published their political position against a decision made by the Nevada County Planning Commission and residents of Nevada County because of the denial for proposed commercial developments for a third and fourth chain store, which promises to rent the developer’s building to Dollar General Corporation for an intended 15 years.
The Union fails to recognize the endless entitlements and non-appropriate mitigation proposals proposed by the developer, citing instead that it “met all the county’s requirements and mitigated all appropriate environmental concerns.” The documents state something else. I think our residents would be more comfortable with county development decisions being left in the hands of our elected and appointed governing boards, and our legal process rather than our local newspaper.
Let’s review just a few highlights:
First, because the planning department does not even see the developer’s application fit to be recommended for approval at the Rough and Ready site, I will limit most of my comments to those pertaining to the Alta Sierra site, although the staff report cites many of the same faults. Both developments are pushed against and within residential neighborhoods.
The project findings prepared by the planning department very clearly cites the Alta Sierra site as “inconsistent with central themes, goals and policies of the Nevada County General Plan that are intended to protect the rural character of existing neighborhoods.” And the “site is not physically suitable for the size, mass and scale of the proposed development.” In summary, the development does not fit the general plan.
The proposal imposes “a significant amount of light, glare and urban development within an area designated as a “rural center,” and would “substantially degrade the visual character of the site and surrounding area even after the application of mitigation measures.”
The entitlements proposed include a 26 percent reduction in the parking it provides because the tenant claims that their particular chain will be a Dollar General. But allowing this entitlement puts restrictions on all future uses for this building. If the developer were allowed to build, who else (requiring 9,100 square feet) could ever qualify to be a tenant except for another chain store? The planning commission’s decision prevents this site from being saddled with permanent future use restrictions, based upon occupancy of a current particular tenant.
The inappropriate size and mass of this store is cited over and over again. It creates massive excavation, large retaining walls, and requires storm-drainage facilities, in addition to the pumping and leaching of sewage to both adjacent and removed parcels. In summary, “the parcel cannot accommodate its own onsite infrastructure.”
Both the zoning administrator and planning commission have requested that the developer reorient the building to eliminate impact upon the residential neighborhood, and to reduce the project size to accommodate the parcel, but they have been unwilling.
The proposal included a mitigation measure which allowed for the destruction of over 100 trees, including landmark oaks, and an oak grove in exchange for $44,000+ to the Bear Yuba Land Trust for replanting oaks at a steeply sloping parcel miles away, and in the 11th hour, the Land Trust learned the proposal included demands upon their own performance that they never agreed to. According to Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt, the Land Trust has filed a letter with the county stating the EIR referenced an agreement that did not exist with the developer.
In response, the findings cite that the plan does not provide “adequate methods to avoid the resource and does not clearly minimize the project impacts to the sites landmark oak trees and grove.”
In summary, our (appointed) Planning Commission recognized the unavoidable adverse environmental effects outweigh the revenue that would be generated by property tax or development revenue. I would like to thank our Planning Commission for making a decision based upon merit, rather than the amount of dollars a developer spent trying to get their way.
Charisse Lolli, who lives in Alta Sierra, has filed an appeal on the certified environmental impact report on the proposed Dollar General store at 17652 Penn Valley Drive in Penn Valley.
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