Nevada City gives one couple the runaround |

Nevada City gives one couple the runaround

People often complain about how difficult it is to work with Nevada County government when you are trying to build something, or even just remodel something. However, every now and then, Nevada City officials prove they are no slouches in the red-tape department.

In this case, Nevada City has taught Stevie and Bill Sheatsley a painful, expensive lesson in the politics of land use.

The Sheatsleys have an idea for affordable housing that they thought might fly – with just a little work. They would sell seven cottages on Nevada Street as condominiums. The project would add two new condos to five existing units on the roughly one-acre property. The Sheatsleys spent about nine months on the project and about $10,000.

The couple also made a compromise with the Nevada City Planning Commission. They would take a projected loss on two of the cottages, selling them for $150,000 each, rather than the $200,000 estimated market value. It was unconventional, and costly for the Sheatsleys, but you often have to give something to get what you want in return. It probably made sense at the time.

Unfortunately, the Sheatsleys have not sacrificed enough to suit Nevada City yet. The City Council, the final city authority in the matter, decided that it did not like the project and rejected a request to give it the final approval.

Now, we are certain city leaders have their reasons for doing all the things they do. They have codes to follow, they have their own vision for the city they are trying to protect, and they have their constituencies to answer to. In fact, city leaders have suggested that the Sheatsleys might still pursue their project with some modifications.

It perhaps was misguided of the Sheatsleys to think that they could just approach the city with a plan and receive a straight-forward answer on whether it was feasible or not. That’s the way things may work in other circles, but this is government. There have to be meetings and delays and more meetings. City leaders may well demand more concessions. And the project will cost still more money.

If the Sheatsleys opt to pursue their project further, we hope Nevada City officials will find a way to help them rather than just sending them mixed signals and complicating the couple’s plans at every turn.

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