Armstrong subdivision closer to approval |

Armstrong subdivision closer to approval

Mitch Clarin, owner of Blue Sky Homes in Historic Downtown, is at it again.

Getting one historic project approved by the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission on Wednesday morning, he also got a 5-home residential subdivision in the Armstrong Tract approved Wednesday night by the Truckee Planning Commission.

The project, a tightly clustered subdivision of relatively affordable, smaller homes, drew half a dozen neighbors to the podium during public comment. The neighbors criticized the project for being too close together (several called the five homes “ducks in a row”), not necessarily being affordable and not using the land to its best advantage.

Several of the neighbors also said the subdivision would ruin the views, create more noise and was going to ruin the neighborhood by allowing the homes to be rented – a plan Clarin said would allow housing for people who need it.

“I just moved up from Temechula in Southern California. I moved because I didn’t like having one house next to another and now that’s happening in Truckee,” said Nancy McCarty, who lives on the same street as the project. “Leave them in Roseville.”

In response to the concerns raised by the neighbors, project representative Gavin Ball said he and Clarin designed the homes to fit the area as best as they could.

“There could be additional space between the structures … but that would create more disturbance, more tree removal,” Ball said.

He added that with larger lots, larger homes could be constructed, making them higher priced. This is exactly the opposite of what Clarin wanted.

In addition, Ball mentioned that while Clarin did want the homes rented, he would consider selling them in the future. If they were sold, Clarin proposed a homeowners’ association to deal with community issues.

As for a reduction in the number of homes, which some neighbors proposed, Ball responded, “Why not three residences, why not four? Frankly, because five works.” Again, he pointed out that with less residences on the same area, the homes would become more expensive.

In addition, Ball pointed out that there was a large wetland area on the east side of the property, which the company cannot build on, and the west side presents problems with slopes greater than 20-30 percent. Also, Ball pointed out that with this configuration, the project leaves 70 percent of the property as open space.

Another issue brought up by the planning commission with the project was that the five homes looked fairly similar.

Ball said this was done intentionally, to save costs on construction by having some similar characteristics.

The planning commission, however, would not buy that argument. As a part of the approval, the commission stipulated that Ball and Clarin design new front fa?ades for some of the buildings, to break up the “monotony.”

This new designs will be reviewed by town staff, but if the buildings are significantly changed, the project will have to return to the planning commission.

The last issue the planning commission had with the homes were the colors. While Clarin was trying to create diversity within the subdivision, the planning commission said the colors should be more earth-tones and not as bright as Clarin had proposed. And the commission vehemently opposed painting the garage doors.

Despite the opposition from the neighbors and deliberation that lasted much longer than expected, the commission approved the project unanimously. The project, located on a 1.25-acre plot on Richards Blvd., should only take approximately one to 1 1/2 years to complete, once ground is broken.

The project is open for appeal until Oct. 20, which would send it to the town council, but it is unlikely anybody will appeal it.

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