Gary Litke: Not everyone in favor of development |

Gary Litke: Not everyone in favor of development

Tobin Daugherty, developer of the proposed Gilded Springs subdivision on West Main Street, recently held a meeting for concerned neighbors and community members.

He apparently wasn’t listening to those in attendance.

On June 11, Mr. Dougherty told a KNCO reporter that except for the tomato farmer who will be displaced, “the rest of the community is on board.” Far from it.

His indifference to the plight of the farmer is typical of the apparent disregard for the opinions of those at the meeting. Numerous attendees spoke at length about the already horrific traffic on West Main, which will be even worse when Yuba River Charter opens in the fall.

Mr. Daugherty’s response, “I can’t fix that.”

No, but he can make it worse.

When asked about a traffic study, we were told that “it isn’t needed” because the development is less than the 50 houses required to trigger a study. It was pointed out that this is a general guideline and that circumstances here warrant a study. In addition to the obvious impacts to West Main traffic, the subdivision poses significant safety problems along Alta Street, already called Alta Raceway by residents of this street. Mr. Daugherty proposes having an entrance/exit just north of Ivy Street in a spot already dangerous because of the incline and sight line restrictions of the hill. Response to these concerns from Mr. Daugherty was silence, not a commitment to include the much-needed traffic study.

When questioned about the numerous springs and ground water associated with Alta Hill we were assured it “would be mitigated.” However, when asked to guarantee that the project would not make water issues worse for those currently effected by this problem, we were told “there are no guarantees.” I feel so much better.

However, I’m sure that the owner of the Sierra Mountain Inn who must close rooms in the winter because of ground water problems, the neighbors with springs coming up in their yards and those with damp cellars and foundations aren’t so certain.

At the meeting we were told that the houses would be a perfect “fit” for the community as they would mirror the historic homes that border the property, and despite our concerns the project was coming. If not by him than “by a Sacramento developer” who would not respect the land and the history as he does.

Mr. Daugherty pointed out that the land is zoned for residential development and is one of the last pieces or available “infill” in the city limits. My question is why we must “fill” every available space?

This property is historic, having been agriculturally used since the Civil War. In every situation we have three choices: keep it the same, make it better or make it worse. It seems to me that a 28-house subdivision at the boundary of our town Historic District is not a “best use” scenario. The agricultural, open space history of this property should be maintained in ways that would benefit someone other than residential real-estate developers.

I respect the rights and needs of the property owners who want to sell this land, but there are alternatives to more traffic, downtown congestion and “infill” that should be considered.

I understand that there is a group of local business and community members who are proposing to unite and purchase the land with the intent saving this historic asset. They deserve the opportunity to present their ideas and intentions before any decision is made regarding the Gilded Springs development.

Gary Litke lives in Grass Valley.

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