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Brickelltown buildings come down

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

After nearly four years, Tom Grossman’s efforts to demolish two dilapidated historic structures in the old Brickelltown area of Donner Pass Road are over.

The two buildings, some of the oldest unrestored remaining in downtown Truckee, were torn down on Wednesday, and construction on a new development to take their place will begin soon.

The buildings dated back to the late 19th century, according to Truckee Donner Historical Society President Sharon Arnold.

“I would say (they were) late 1880s,” said Arnold.

“I’m very excited and happy for Truckee that the process of redevelopment has begun,” Grossman said Wednesday.

The long-delayed project cleared its final hurdle when the Truckee Town Council voted unanimously to issue Grossman a demolition permit at their July 19 meeting.

Afterward, Grossman sounded more relieved than celebratory.

“Things turned out fairly (tonight),” he said. “It’s the end of a three year process. I think it’s going to be a good thing for Brickelltown and Truckee.”

Grossman had requested that the Council issue the permit even though a building permit had yet to be issued.

A town regulation requires a builder or developer to have a building permit before a demolition permit will be issued for any building downtown built before 1940.

Grossman told the Council on Thursday that if he had to wait for the permit, possibly weeks away, he might “lose the opportunity to do the (grading) before Oct. 15,” the deadline imposed by Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board for all dirt moving activities in the area.

Grossman’s plans to tear down the old buildings and rebuild on the lot were approved by the Planning Commission in a 3-2 vote in May.

Before a building of historical significance can be demolished, the town requires the owner demonstrate that restoring it will be more expensive than demolition and rebuilding.

In 1999, Council awarded Grossman an economic hardship certificate, and the Truckee-based builder has been trying to get his plans approved ever since.

After the meeting, longtime Tahoe City resident Rick Stafford, who spoke out against Grossman’s plans during the meeting, said the certificate is a convenient loophole for builders and developers.

“As a property owner of a historic property, it’s always going to be more expensive to restore than to tear it down and rebuild,” he said.

Stafford, the former president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society, appealed to the Council to deny Grossman a demolition permit.

“If we let people continually tear down houses, there is no incentive to restore them,” Stafford told the Council.

In other business at their July 19 meeting, the Council also voted 5-0 in favor of an ordinance that will require property owners to remove woodstoves and fireplace inserts not in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency and Town of Truckee standards prior to the sale or transfer of the property. The ordinance was scheduled for formal adoption at the next Town Council meeting.

The Council opened the meeting by recognizing the career of longtime Nevada County Sheriff’s Office employee Kevin Harper and introduced Pat Perkins.

Perkins was recently hired by the Town as a senior engineer. Harper is retiring from public service after 20 years with the county, mostly as a NCSO deputy.

Harvey said he was looking forward to pursuing private business interests, then commented on the formation of the Truckee Police Department, set to begin operations on Sept. 1.

“People often ask me ‘Was the (formation of the) police department a good idea?’ (My) answer is an overwhelming ‘Yes.'”

The Town Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 2.


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