Airport plan to get environmental review
July 8, 2004
The Truckee Tahoe Airport’s compatibility plan was speeding toward adoption at Wednesday’s meeting until the last item on the agenda.That’s when questions about the plan’s need for an environmental review slowed things down. The Foothill Airport Land Use Commission accepted the compatibility plan (CLUP), which meant that without an environmental review it could have been in effect by September. But the commission later decided to require an initial study that will lead to either a lesser environmental review or a full impact report on the plan.As Commissioner Peter Van Zant noted, calling for an environmental review slows the adoption process considerably.”This means that [the plan] will not get done in any reasonable time,” said Van Zant, who by virtue of his seat on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors sits on the commission. The move was a reversal for some members of the commission, who had presented an attorney’s letter that said the CLUP was exempt from environmental review. But after Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook and attorney Jim Porter disagreed with the letter’s assumptions, the commission decided to begin the environmental review process. Compatibility plans have had everything from no environmental review to full impact reports, the commission noted. But a Solano County plan adopted without environmental review is currently under legal challenge, noted Porter and Airport Consultant Ken Brody. Several audience members also urged the council for an environmental review. Kathleen Eagan alleged that the airport’s 2000 Master Plan deferred a full disclosure of impacts to the compatibility plan.”The airport board has not openly disclosed the effects of its master plan,” Eagan said.Without a full environmental impact report on the master plan, the effects of increased aircraft traffic and plans for additional runways where left to the CLUP to disclose, Eagan said.”Some four years later, with this map, is the first time that the community has seen the effects,” she said.All of the agencies and jurisdictions surrounding the airport came away with good news about the draft CLUP’s effect on building and expansion plans in the area.The Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District lobbied hard for an exemption for property donated by East West Partners. The piece of land known as the “triangle” – where state Route 89 north, Interstate 80 and Donner Pass Road meet – was granted the exception. That will allow the district to go ahead with plans to build a 50,000 square foot community center on the site. There will be a 1,000 person limit on the center and added design guidelines for the structure as well. As the district noted, large gathering of people at the center would happen at night and in the winter, at times when aircraft operations are at their least frequent point.The downtown railyard will be allowed a maximum density of 300 people per acre and 1,200 people maximum for gatherings. The Tahoe Forest Hospital, the school district, and other entities were left with flexibility to build and expand in the accepted CLUP. Hopkins Ranch, the Martis Valley development that has been approved but is under legal challenge, was also moved entirely out of a restrictive zone that could have altered its plans.The accepted draft, however, will still reflect a 20-year projected aircraft operation number of 120,000, contrary to requests from the airport board and the Town of Truckee that it be reduced to 67,000.What is the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission?The Foothill Airport Land Use Commission is another incarnation of the Sierra Planning Organization, a seven-member body that is responsible for the regional planning of Nevada, Placer and El Dorado and Sierra Counties. Steve Enos and Peter Van Zant represent Nevada County. Rex Bloomfield and Kathy Sands represent Placer County. Peter Huebner and Milton Gottardi represent Sierra County. Gary Pigg and Charlie Paine represent El Dorado County. Charlie Paine was the only member absent from Wednesday’s meeting.What is the Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan?The compatibility plan is the document that ensures compatibility between the airport’s master plan and surrounding jurisdictions’ general plans that guide growth. The agreement of these two plans guarantees that development surrounding the airport is reasonably safe and compatible with airport operations.