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Hearing set for proposed Combie Road-area project

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A Nevada County Planning Commission public hearing on the proposed Higgins Marketplace will be held Oct. 22. The commission will consider a use permit, tentative parcel map and management plan. The project, which would be constructed at Highway 49 and the intersection of Wolf and Combie roads, is being developed by Katz Kirkpatrick Properties of Sacramento. It would be anchored by a 50,060-square-foot Bel Air Market that would include a Peet’s Coffee and Tea, U.S. Postal Service counter, in-house bank and pharmacy. According to project documents, there would also be two retail buildings — 11,400 square feet and 8,250-square-feet, a 6,000-square-foot restaurant and 412 parking spaces. The 20.07-acre parcel would be divided into 12.03 acres designated community commercial space, 3.03 acres as a business park, .77 acre office and professional space and 4.23 acres of open space. There are no development plans for the business park and office/professional designated space at this time. However, the proposal states that eventual development of those areas could include 26,000 square feet of light industrial and office space, according to the Planning Commission document. According to a Katz Kirkpatrick press release, the developer and Nevada County would share costs for road improvements encompassing a bypass for the Highway 49/Combie Road intersection, new left and right turn lanes at Higgins and Combie, a new traffic signal, and, eventually, lengthening left- turn lanes on Combie and road widening. The project, six years in the planning, faces opposition from residents. “South County Citizens for Smart Growth opposes the Higgins Marketplace,” Margaret Joehnck, president of the group said in an e-mail to the Journal. “It will create a large increase in traffic in the area, especially Combie Road, and traffic entering and exiting from the center would be hazardous to on-going traffic on Highway 49. It also will put out of business many of the existing locally owned and operated businesses in the Higgins Corner area. It is, yet again, another instance of piecemeal planning, amending the existing General Plan for Nevada County, rather than up-dating the General Plan, which is now approximately 20 years old.” The law firm of Lippe Gaffney Wagner LLP has filed a suit on behalf of South County Citizens for Smart Growth, against this development primarily because of the inadequacy of the EIR process and the urban decay impacts, Joehnck added. Developer Fred Katz has scaled back the original scope of the project. “In working with Nevada County staff and officials, we’ve made many improvements to our initial proposal,” Fred Katz said in a press release. “The most important change was shrinking the size and number of the buildings.” — Gloria Young