South Nevada County retirement community draws mixed reaction

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The meeting was held to gather views on the proposed Rincon del Rio retirement community in South Nevada County bordering the Placer County line. But as voices were raised and tempers flared, Wednesday’s scoping session at Bear River High School also turned into an opportunity for supporters and opponents to draw their battle lines. Speakers favoring the project argued the need for continuing care and communities that could cluster older residents together in a supportive setting. Opponents – many from homes near the 210-acre site off Rincon Way – contended Rincon del Rio would bring traffic, noise and an unwelcome change to their rural lifestyle. Benton Seely, a nearby resident, angrily shouted down a Rincon del Rio supporter at one point, saying developer greed was behind a plan that calls for 345 detached or attached residences and 415 residents. “It’s for the money lady,” Seely said. “It’s for the money.” Laura Thorne, a 25-year resident of the area, said that all residents will need a place like Rincon del Rio to go to when they grow older and without it, more elderly residents would be leaving of Nevada County. “All older people in this community want to stay,” Thorne said. “I’m not willing to be part of the exodus because you’re afraid of change.” Ron Moser, president of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, said Rincon del Rio would provide significant benefits in terms of jobs. If issues regarding access to the site from Highway 49 west of the property, water supply and sewage disposal can be addressed to benefit the community, it would be a positive project for the area, he said. Michael Dye, another nearby resident, said he didn’t think there was one person in the area who was for the project. Dye said he’s concerned that the project – which needs a rezoning for what is now rural-residential land, a general plan amendment and a use permit – is already “a done deal.” Current zoning allows 72 single-family lots. “It’s a good project in the wrong place,” Dye said. “What scares me is that rich people have already bought the political system.” Brian Millar, planning manager, outlined plans by Rincon del Rio to cluster development within a 40-acre area on the western half of the 210-acre site. The remaining 170 acres are projected to be retained as undeveloped open space. There is frontage on the Bear River to the south of the project site at the Placer-Nevada county line. The entrance on Rincon Way lies about a quarter of a mile from the Bear River-Highway 49 bridge. Anna Choudhuvi, the environmental impact report manager for the project, said more opportunities for public input will be available as the government approval process moves forward with a targeted six-month timeline.