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Supervisors take on property rights

Grace Karpa

Sun News Service

NEVADA CITY – County supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to take an action some critics call redundant.

Supervisors Sue Horne and Bruce Conklin agreed with a dozen or so people who said there was no need for Supervisor Peter Van Zant’s proposed resolution to adopt a property owners’ bill of rights related to the county’s controversial open-space program, Natural Heritage 2020.

“You’re not offering them more than they already have,” Horne said about the resolution, which states the county will study financial impacts to the county before the program is implemented. The resolution also states the program would bring no new taxes without a popular vote.

Supervisors approved the Natural Heritage 2020 program last May and chose 11 community advisory committee members in July. The first round of public forums to gain public comment was held in March. The committee is expected to make recommendations to supervisors in fall 2002. Opposition formed quickly around the fear of losing private property rights.

Horne brought forth shouts of “Bravo!” from the audience when she said she thought Natural Heritage 2020 “should be put on the back burner.”

Horne said the county Planning Department “had enough on its plate” without pursuing a program that took planners away from routine projects. Requests to enlarge the supervisor-appointed community advisory committee to include an agricultural and a large-timber representative have been ignored, Horne said.

“That would have gone a long way to gain trust in the process,” she said.

Van Zant said honoring those and other requests would create a “large, unmanageable group.”

Calvin Clark, an opponent of NH 2020 who is shepherding a recall against board Chairwoman Elizabeth Martin, asked that the resolution be placed on a meeting agenda two weeks later.

The resolution was an addendum to this week’s meeting because county counsel released it after the agenda was made final Thursday, Van Zant explained.

“I think it’s very arrogant of this board … to come up with this resolution,” former county Supervisor Rene Antonson said.

County resident Karen Nelson said of NH 2020, “This thing has been totally wrong from the beginning.” She said the 11-member community advisory committee could not represent the county’s 90,000-plus population.

Jan Hegel of Nevada City agreed with critics. Ed Caldwell, also of Nevada City, called the resolution ludicrous.

Chris Bierwagen, a Chicago Park fruit grower, asked that the program be put to a popular vote.

David Friedrichsen of Grass Valley said he didn’t like it that most of the money to pay for the yet-to-be-developed program will come from outside the county, from the Packard Foundation via the Sierra Business Council.

Two people spoke in favor of the program.

“I don’t care if the government contacts me and comes out on my land,” Bob Radosevic of Nevada City said.

“Izzy, I’m for you,” he said to Martin.

Stephanie Mandel, who recently became a property owner, said she trusted government and did not share fears of the program’s opponents.

“I’m just not getting it,” she said about the opposition.

Critics became boisterous enough at one point that Martin warned she would end the meeting if people did not behave. About 50 people attended the public hearing.


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