Royal Gorge impacts cross county lines |

Royal Gorge impacts cross county lines

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunAs part of the Royal Gorge development, Project Manager Mike Livak said the at-grade railroad crossing on Soda Springs Road could be raised on a bridge over the railroad, relieving congestion on the one road in and out of both the proposed development and the existing Serene Lakes subdivision.

Donner Summit’s proposed Royal Gorge development faces many challenges from water supply and waste water treatment to angry project opponents.

For local government, the project’s location ” sitting on the edge of the Placer-Nevada county line ” is also a challenge,

“Virtually all of the residential development will happen in Placer County,” said Royal Gorge project manager Mike Livak. “Nevada County will get more infrastructure.”

With a formal project submittal expected in the next few months, both counties have already set plans in motion to make sure both jurisdictions are happy with the results.

“The lead agency will be Placer County because the project falls within their boundaries, however there are impacts I am concerned about in Nevada County,” said Supervisor Ted Owens, who represents Nevada County’s District 5.

Primary among his concerns is the potential traffic impacts of the proposed 950 housing units on Nevada County roads like Old Highway 40, Owens said.

Livak said traffic volumes and potential fixes will come out in the upcoming environmental review process.

Normally “affected agencies” are noticed in an environmental review process and allowed input on the project so far as the project effects them, but Owens said he wants to go above and beyond that.

“We’ve taken the initiative to identify how Nevada County can participate in the project,” Owens said.

Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz agreed that the two counties will need to work together beyond usual formalities.

“There is no joint decision making, but next time it may be us,” Kranz said. “You need to listen to your neighbors.”

Cooperation will be key because of the different special districts on the Summit, including the Sierra Lakes County Water District, the Donner Summit Public Utility District and the Truckee Fire Protection District, Kranz said.

Livak said the development may be annexed into the utility district, a Nevada County entity, across county lines.

For a government agency to annex an area, the two county’s Local Area Formation Commissions have to get involved.

“We’ve been working with Placer County LAFCo… talking about an agreement that might be an opportunity for us to consult with each other,” said SR Jones, executive officer of Nevada County LAFCo.

One way the two county commissions may work together is by holding meetings on the Summit, not just in the western county seats, said Kris Berry, who heads up Placer’s LAFCo.

So far, all the talk of collaboration is preliminary, said Brian Foss, principal planner for Nevada County, and the working relationship has not yet been set.

“Nevada County is very interested and very eager to work with Placer County,” Foss said.

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