Affordable housing debated in Gray’s Crossing environmental review
July 10, 2003
Review of the Gray’s Crossing environmental impact report Wednesday elicited debate about how the project addresses affordable housing needs in Truckee.
The Town of Truckee Planning Commission was given the opportunity to review and comment on the Gray’s Crossing (PC-2) draft environmental impact report at its meeting Wednesday.
The presentation was given by East West Partners’ Rick McConn, SCO Planning and Engineering’s Dale Tom Creighton and Pacific Municipal Consultants’ Brendan Vieg.
The ensuing discussion was mostly for the benefit of the planning commission and the developers (East West Partners); The planning commission got an idea of what the project would entail and the developers got an idea of what concerns the planning commission had.
The public was mostly invited to gather information, but was also permitted to ask questions of the applicants, which sparked debate between the applicants and the planning commission. They brought up issues of size of homes, who would own the individual lots and the “Cottage” area, which is the plan’s affordable housing section. The public is allowed to submit only written comment to the town, no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 8.
In response to the public’s questions, Creighton explained that a lot of the property would be owned by East West Partners, and there are several suggested types of homes. For the Cottage, East West and SCO proposed three different designs for the cottage homes, which ranged in size from 900 square feet to approximately 1,500 square feet.
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Creighton explained that the PC-2 (planned community-2) area has had a long history, and was acquired from the United States Forest Service in a trade in the 1970s. According to Vieg, the first EIR done on the site (called Boca Sierra) was constructed in 2000, but the applicant withdrew in the final stages.
Vieg, a PMC consultant who worked on the DEIR, outlined the major changes between the Boca Sierra EIR and the updated Gray’s Crossing DEIR. He explained that East West Partners and SCO had taken 76 acres out of the project, that was deemed “commercial triangle” in the original EIR.
He said that they also added 52.3 acres on the east side of the property, increased the open space (not including the golf course) from 325 acres to 417 acres and expanded the “Village Center.”
The key issues raised during the environmental review, Vieg said, dealt with land use, traffic and circulation, hydrology and water quality and biological and natural resources.
A large issue that Vieg and PMC had was the compatibility of the planned private golf course with the general plan policy for PC-2. Vieg suggested making the golf course “shared use,” possibly changing its designation to “stay-and-play” (if you stay at the lodging in Gray’s Crossing, you may play on the course), or simply opening it to the public.
Another issue Vieg brought to the planning commission’s attention was that East West is partnering with a golf course environmental certification group and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board to adopt BMPs (best management practices) and a CHAMP (chemical application management plan). This partnership, McConn said, would help with the chemicals used on the area, and said they hoped to use little-to-no fertilizers for the golf course and community.
“We’re trying to use almost no fertilizers at all,” McConn said. “We’re trying to be as green as we can.”
Deer migration corridors were another issue that came up during Vieg’s study, one that he said they knew would be a big issue. They consulted the California Department of Fish and Game, he said, and found “for the most part, no additional mitigation is needed.”
The planned Gray’s Crossing area is located on both the east and west sides of State Route 89, just north of Interstate 80. The area is planned for mixed use, including single family homes, attached homes, the affordable housing Cottage area, a golf course, lodging, and retail and office space.
Heidi Scoble, Town of Truckee associate planner, said the project will move to a discussion meeting at the town council on Aug. 7, and the final EIR and specific plan should be formally presented to the planning commission in mid-September.