Town of Truckee shares criticism of Squaw village development | SierraSun.com

Town of Truckee shares criticism of Squaw village development

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Located only miles outside Olympic Valley, the town of Truckee — home to roughly 16,000 residents — is among those sharing concerns of the multi-acre development proposal for the Village at Squaw Valley.

The town authored one of 352 estimated comment letters on the draft environmental impact report for the proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan, said Alex Fisch, Placer County senior planner.

"While the scale of the specific plan is large, it is located several miles south of the town of Truckee, so our comments and concerns focus on issues and impacts of regional concern or on potential impacts within the town of Truckee that may result from the proposed project," states the town's 5-page letter, which has an attachment, as signed by Mayor Alicia Barr and dated July 15.

In it, the town raises transportation and circulation, workforce housing, and long-term water supply concerns regarding the proposed development that aims to create a year-round destination resort.

Traffic and circulation

In terms of roadways, the town of Truckee is concerned about traffic impacts to those located in and adjacent to the town, particularly segments and intersections along Highway 89.

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"The town recognizes that even with mitigation, impacts may remain significant and unavoidable; however the town encourages Placer County and (the developer) to take additional steps to require ways to reduce and minimize the traffic impacts associated with buildout of the specific plan," Truckee's letter states.

Mitigation measures suggested by the town include enhanced transit services such as shuttle services from lodging facilities for visitors, employee programs to incentivize use of alternate transportation and infrastructure improvements.

"The town also recognizes that traffic through these areas determined to have a significant impact could also be lessened through a reduction in the scale of the projects identified in the specific plan," the letter states. "It is appropriate to consider reduced development alternatives which would result in lower traffic impacts."

In response to Truckee's concerns, Andrea Parisi, project coordinator for Squaw Valley Real Estate, said: "Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows has been and continues to be a dedicated participant and leader in regional transit solutions. Seeking ways to incentivize both employees and guests to utilize alternatives means of transportation is a commitment that we share with the town of Truckee. We are always open to suggestions."

Workforce housing

As for workforce housing, the town of Truckee is encouraging as many resort employees — both existing and future hires — be housed in Olympic Valley to further limit traffic impacts to the region.

"While the project does not provide housing for all new full-time and part-time employees, it does propose to provide housing for over 50 percent of its employee housing needs, or beds for up to 284 new employees to be located within Olympic Valley, leaving only 122 beds to be provided elsewhere," Parisi said. "Providing the majority of employee housing within the valley and providing shuttles for those employees will also help the town's concerns."

Additionally, the town advises the workforce housing plan be developed sooner rather than later.

"The use of in-lieu fees for unidentified future projects, or other unidentified off-site housing options, may end up impacting roadways and intersections beyond the analysis provided in the DEIR," states the town's letter. "The workforce housing plan must be developed and analyzed concurrent with the specific plan."

Water supply

In terms of water, the town is concerned with there being an adequate long-term supply within Olympic Valley to support the proposed development.

Chevis Hosea, vice president of development for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Squaw Valley Real Estate, said recent analysis proves there is adequate water supply for the project, existing users and cumulative development.

Another concern of the town is the potential use of the Martis Valley aquifer as a backup water source for the Squaw Valley Public Service District, which will serve the development.

"Town of Truckee citizens, through the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, receive their water from the Martis Valley aquifer," the letter states. "Additional demand placed on this aquifer could have regional water impacts and should be studied as part of the review of the specific plan."

To this, the resort supports SVPSD's efforts in securing a secondary water source, but it is not required to support the Village at Squaw Valley project expansion, Hosea said.

Next steps

Placer County is reviewing all comment letters received by the July 17 deadline, and they are anticipated to be posted online sometime this week, Fisch said.

Based on the volume of comments received, production of the final EIR is anticipated to take more than 100 days, with circulation tentatively scheduled for a 10-day review period beginning Oct. 30, Fisch said.

Following the close of the final EIR review, certification of the document and project entitlements will be considered by the Placer County Planning Commission during a public hearing, he said.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors will then consider the project during a public hearing that would likely occur in winter 2016.

Look to future print editions of the Sierra Sun for additional commentary on the draft report.

The proposal

The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan outlines construction of up to 850 lodging units, with a maximum of 1,493 bedrooms; nearly 300,000 square feet of tourist-serving commercial space, while decommissioning about 92,000 square feet of existing commercial space; and a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp for indoor and outdoor recreation.

Additional parking spaces, construction of up to 50 employee housing units and restoration of Squaw Creek also are proposed.

Visit tinyurl.com/qd45br8 to learn more about the project and view the draft EIR.

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