Amended initiative headed to a vote
The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation initiative to amend Truckee’s General Plan appears to be headed for the November ballot.
Representatives of MAPF asked town councilmembers to jointly sponsor an amended initiative during a special town council meeting Tuesday night. Three of the four councilmembers in attendance, however, did not support the idea (Councilman Don McCormack was absent).
By not taking action on the issue, councilmembers in effect agreed to let the voters decide the fate of the general plan amendment in November.
The initiative targets land uses approved under the general plan for Planned Community 2, a 789-acre development area located north of the Highway 89-Interstate 80 intersection.
Councilman Josh Susman, who was the lone supporter of the amended initiative, said issues surrounding the initiative were debated long and hard during the general plan hearings a few years back. It was his opinion that the prior council might have lost sight of community issues while working to adopt the general plan.
“When you are very close to something you can lose focus on community issues,” Susman said. “I am not saying everything in here (the general plan) is inappropriate. I think there were members of (that) council that created a box that keeps this council from looking at things objectively.
“I am sorry this council can’t see to support this (initiative) modification.”
Speaking on behalf of the Hopkins Family, who own the PC-2 property, Dale Creighton of Sylvester Engineering asked the council not to support the initiative and to stand behind the town’s general plan.
“The general plan land use designations for PC-2 allocate a mixture of land uses, including open space, affordable housing, public facilities and recreation, combined with revenue-generating uses such as residential, commercial and lodging,” Creighton said. “These uses are required to be balanced to meet the needs of the community over a 20-year period.”
Mayor Bob Drake and Councilmen Steve Carpenter and Ron Florian said they could not support the initiative amendment. After negotiations have failed to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, it is time to let the voters decide, they said.
“We attempted to achieve a mutual resolution and it didn’t happen,” Carpenter said. “Putting the initiative on the ballot in November is due process. Let’s let the voters decide.”
Present as a councilman during the general plan adoption hearings, Carpenter also said he thought that council did its best to represent the community.
“The general plan was developed over a three-year period. I was there and I think we did our best to represent the entire town,” Carpenter said. “The process then was good. I don’t think the initiative process is good. I cannot support a join initiative if we were to make a decision tonight.”
Florian agreed with Carpenter’s points on the issue, saying, “I cannot support a joint initiative with MAPF.”
“As (Washoe County Superior Court) Judge Mills Lane said, ‘Let’s get it on’,” Drake said. “I am tired of comments like ‘smelly backroom politics’ and I am tired of innuendoes. I am with the other two, let’s take it to a vote of the people.”
MAPF President Stefanie Olivieri after the meeting said petitions would continue to be circulated until Friday, June 13, at which time they will be submitted to Town Manager Steve Wright, who will forward the petitions to the county office of elections for signature verification.
Olivieri said MAPF had gathered enough signatures – about 1,079 are required to put the initiative on the November ballot – in the first week petitions were circulated. By continuing to pass petitions up to the deadline, Olivieri hopes to make a statement in terms of the amount of community support.
Creighton said MAPF’s initiative inaccurately characterizes the Boca Sierra Estates development plan as urban sprawl in order to garner support.
“The supporters of the initiative are characterizing PC-2 as a development plan hosting a Home Depot, Wal-Mart and mega malls in order to attract signatures for their cause,” Creighton said. “This is not what is proposed nor is it the goal of the general plan. This type of activity flies in the face of sound planning principles and jeopardizes Truckee’s ability to become a sustaining community with a balance economy, which is one of the primary goals of the general plan.”
Developers have planned, but not submitted to town planners, a mixed use project on PC-2 called Boca Sierra Estates. The project summary provides for 368 acres of open space, 329 acres of clustered residential housing, 50 acres for commercial and office space, 22 acres for lodging and recreational uses and earmarks 20 acres for public use.
MAPF’s initiative originally proposed reducing potential commercial space square footage at PC-2 from 175,000 to 15,000 and eliminating the site’s potential for a resort hotel and golf course. In addition, future amendments to the general plan regarding PC-2 would require a majority vote of the public.
Also originally required under the initiative was a majority public vote to change any resource conservation-open space land designations to another land use or to add land uses not listed. The public vote requirement would have ended Dec. 31, 2020.
Through the course of negotiations with the town and the developers, MAPF amended the initiative to increase the amount of developable commercial space at PC-2 to 25,000 square-feet and end the public vote requirement in the year 2010.
The council’s non-action on Tuesday, however, will keep the public vote requirement in place until Dec. 31, 2020.
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