Before ringing in the New Year, here’s a look back at a few 2019 accomplishments in Nevada County. In addition to core services, Nevada County accomplished new achievements in 2019 from beginning the Ponderosa West shaded fuel break, issuing our first cannabis permits, breaking ground on the expansion and sewer lines on Combie Road to allow more businesses to develop, launching innovative new programs like the HOME Team to connect with local homeless residents, leveraging County funding as deferred loans to make the Penn Valley Senior Housing project a reality, to tackling a record-setting snowy February (with 20 foot snow banks!) and keeping unincorporated Truckee roads open.
Ponderosa West Project
Ponderosa West Project is a shaded fuel break. The project was one of thirty-five priority projects identified by CAL FIRE and Governor Newsom to protect California's most wildfire-vulnerable communities. Funding for this project was awarded to the County of Nevada through a combination of grant and contract dollars totaling $3.5 million. This zone will provide an effective location for fire suppression activities. The entire footprint of the project includes 1,237 acres and offers protection to the communities of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, and Rough and Ready to the west, as well as the City of Grass Valley. Fire Safe Council plans to complete 300 acres by December 31, 2019 and the remainder of the project by February 2022.
Unlike a fire break, a shaded fuel break does not remove all vegetation to bare mineral soil. Rather, living vegetation will be modified or reduced to limit a fire’s ability to spread rapidly. Unlike a fire break, a shaded fuel break does not remove all vegetation to bare mineral soil. Rather, living vegetation will be modified or reduced to limit a fire's ability to spread rapidly. Biologists, Registered Professional Foresters and Archaeologists from CAL FIRE and the California Native Plant Society will create an ecologically sound strategy, considering both long-term forest health and community safety. The California Native Plant Society, CAL FIRE and Fire Safe Council are collaborating with property owners to create a custom fuel reduction plan for each property.
Beginning in November, CAL FIRE managed burns in partnership with the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County in an effort to safely reduce hazardous fuels. Controlled burns were implemented on the County parcels just northeast of the McCourtney Road Transfer Station.
1st Cannabis Permit Issued
On May 14th, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved Nevada County's Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance with a 4/5 vote. This comes after a multi-year community process starting in 2016 when 59% of Nevada County voters rejected Measure W, which proposed an ordinance banning outdoor cannabis cultivation. The cultivation ordinance allows cannabis farmers to cultivate up to 10,000 square feet with minimum parcel sizes of medicinal cannabis in specified zones including agricultural and forest zones, but not residential zones, in Nevada County. The ordinance does not allow manufacturing, dispensaries or other "supply chain" cannabis businesses.
On June 26th, the Nevada County Cannabis Compliance Division permitted the first Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation site in Nevada County. This was a historical moment for the County and the cultivation community.
Nevada County's first permitted cultivator was quick to apply during the pre-application process, and was well prepared with a complete application and site plan. Since then, the Community Development Agency has issued 26 cannabis permits, up more than 30% compared to the 9 compliant and permitted cannabis cultivation farms in July.
Higgins Marketplace and Combie Road Construction
During the July 9th Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board approved the Higgins Marketplace Project, an approximately 75,710 square foot commercial center, which included sewer improvements to be constructed with the Combie Road Corridor Improvement Project to widen Combie Road. By combining the two projects, additional road disruptions due to construction are avoided and the economic benefits of the Higgins Marketplace Project are expedited. The project also benefits the existing Lake of the Pines Wastewater Plant and may help attract future developers.
Construction of the Combie Road Corridor Improvement Project started in July 2019 and is 95% complete. Storm drain and sewer lines were one of the first orders of work and span the project from Higgins Road to Cascade Crossing Road. Widening work included two lanes in both directions on Combie Road from Highway 49 to east of Higgins Road, bicycle lanes on both sides of Combie Road from Highway 49 to West Hacienda Drive and the remaining work includes modification of the traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 49 and Combie Road, and construction of a new signal on Combie Road at Higgins Road.
On June 24th, Nevada County (in partnership with Hospitality House, Turning Point Community Programs and AMI Housing) launched the Homeless Outreach and Medical Engagement (HOME) team. The goal of the team is to identify, engage, provide case management and housing support to highly vulnerable homeless residents of Nevada County.
Residents can contact the HOME team to express concern for someone they think may need help or services, or those who are experiencing homeless and are looking to connect with services themselves, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by calling (530) 470-2686 or emailing email@example.com.
Penn Valley Senior Housing
The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) announced in September that over 7 million in federal low-income housing tax credits would be awarded to the Lone Oak Senior Apartments in Penn Valley. This came after the Nevada County Board of Supervisors earmarked $1.2 million in County funds as deferred loans in the Regional Housing Authorities' (RHA) developer funding application package to the CTCAC. The award of tax credits to Lone Oak Senior Apartments was the final step needed to fully fund the project that is expected to break ground in spring of 2020.
County Takes Over Snow Plow at Donner Summit
County Roads crews were active in early 2019 over Donner Pass, Hobart Mills and areas closer to the Town of Truckee keeping up with snow, ice and tree hazards. In February 2019, Roads crews kept unincorporated County roads open in Truckee with over 20 foot snow banks.
See Public Works in Action