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Supes approve South Nevada County seniors project

345-unit Rincon del Rio plan gets unanimous OK from Nevada County supes
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Nevada County supervisors gave unanimous approval Tuesday to plans for a 345-unit seniors housing project 5 miles north of Auburn.

The Board of Supervisors heard from more than 30 speakers during a seven-hour session in Nevada City, most of them for the project, before OK’ing several measures that allow the controversial plans to move forward.

Young Enterprises, a Nevada County business owned by local resident Carol Young, proposed the Rincon Del Rio development on a 215-acre property off Rincon Way and carried it through a more contentious meeting earlier this year with the Nevada County Planning Commission.

The planning panel voted 3-2 to move the recommendations forward. While the resident count is to be capped at 415 as the project is developed over several phases, several speakers at both Tuesday’s session and the planning commission meeting two months ago questioned whether the project was too big for the rural South Nevada County, just off Highway 49.

David Kirk, a resident of the nearby Lake of the Pines Ranchos, said that he thoroughly enjoys the country lifestyle.

“I believe we really need to keep it rural,” Kirk said. “If I wanted to live in the city, I would’ve stayed in Santa Monica where I came from.”

Supervisor Terry Lamphier praised the project for the jobs it would create and the quality of life it would provide senior residents. Rincon’s development team cited estimates that Rincon del Rio would have 43 jobs with an annual payroll of $1.7 million, create $72 million in construction activity and provide $11 million to the county in developer and building fees.

Bob Jones, a Lake of the Pines Ranchos resident and ordained minister since 1956, cited the $11 million figure and warned supervisors to stay true to their principles.

“It comes down to your conscience,” Jones said. “We’re all born and we’re all going to die. We have to answer for our actions.”

Lamphier also questioned whether nearby residents and project opponents were stretching the idea that the area near Rincon del Rio was actually so rural. Lamphier cited a planning department count that indicated there were about 3,000 homes within 3 miles of the proposal, including the Lake of the Pines gated community.       

The board accepted environmental documentation for Rincon del Rio required by the state, a general plan amendment creating a new continuing-care, retirement-community zoning designation, and a rezone from current single-family residential zoning.

 The number of speakers in favor of the project outnumbered opponents 2-1. Supporters cited jobs, increased revenue for the county and more seniors housing in an area many elderly residents move away from. Opponents expressed concerns about traffic, an emergency road that could clog traffic and whether the new zoning would create a precedent that would create unwanted growth.

The housing development, officially named Rincon del Rio Continuing Care Retirement Community, is located at the end of Rincon Way, a half-mile east of Highway 49 and south of the Lake of the Pines community.

Citing a nearby development that failed to provide promised infrastructure, Supervisor Ed Scofield said that the checks and balances built into planning documents could prevent problems if the developer can’t proceed as planned.

“I think the county did well on this,” Scofield said. “And it will stop another Dark Horse from occurring.”

Board Chairman Hank Weston also expressed satisfaction with plans for Rincon del Rio.

“It will be something new but change is not bad,” Weston said.