Brickelltown work OKed in 3-2 vote
Plans for demolition of two buildings on the Donner Pass Road area once known as Brickelltown were narrowly approved by the Town of Truckee Planning Commission Wednesday, May 9, bringing several years of plan revisions under the town’s historic guidelines to a close.
In a 3-2 vote, the planning commission voted to approve the development permit and historic design review applications, which will allow demolition and redevelopment of the two dilapidated structures.
Barring an appeal, the demolition process will begin as soon as the building permits are obtained, which will likely take two to four weeks, said Tony Lashbrook, the town’s community development director.
The original plan for one large building on the site was modified to fit with the town’s vision of the previous historic structures shortly after the town incorporated, said Tom Grossman, the owner and developer of the property.
Studying the feasibility of rehabilitating the existing buildings was considered, but it was determined to be more expensive than building new and historically accurate structures.
Grossman later filed for economic hardship, a condition that he said was required by the town for historically significant buildings to be demolished.
Town Council approved in 1999 a certificate of economic hardship, which would allow demolition of the structures, but only after certain conditions had been met.
Grossman has been working to receive the necessary permits ever since, and only recently were his plans approved by the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission.
Representatives from Mountain Area Preservation Foundation restated their opposition to the development plans last Wednesday.
“We spent years working on the general plan to frame the street as it was historically framed, and that is by houses,” said Stefanie Olivieri, spokeswoman for MAPF, on Monday.
Pat Davison, a spokesperson for the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, expressed her support for the project at the meeting.
“Finding a balance between use and preservation is always difficult,” wrote Davison in a prepared statement. “We think this project is appropriate considering the historic feel of downtown.”
The Planning Commission felt the parking improvements such as vegetation cover, depicted through a photo presentation, would effectively screen much of the site’s parking lot from the road, said Ted Owens, a planning commissioner.
“It would be nice if you didn’t have parking there,” said Owens after the meeting, “but you have a requirement … (Tom Grossman) had exercised just about every other design for that site.”
The Planning Commission received letters of support for the project from other neighboring Brickelltown property owners, which Owens said was noteworthy.
Olivieri said the plans could have been modified to include smaller developments, or she suggested that Grossman pay the parking mitigation fee.
Tom Grossman said he has worked with the town on several different development plans, but underlying the thrust of the project is economic feasibility. Paying the parking mitigation fee and forcing his tenants to park somewhere else was undesirable.
“I don’t want to build a bad project,” said Grossman earlier this year.
In a marathon seven-hour meeting that may have been the longest Town of Truckee Planning Commission meeting on record, several other major projects were approved or will advance to the next step of public review.
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Town Council approve the Pioneer Commerce Center, an industrial and business park just north of Interstate 80 and west of Highway 89 north.
MAPF submitted opposition to the project the day of the Planning Commission meeting, said Owens, which made it difficult to review their comments.
Olivieri said she believes the site is designated in the general plan as a location that would allow industrial businesses along the Truckee River who are violating the zoning assignments to relocate.
Heidi Scoble, a planner with the Town of Truckee, agrees. But she also said that according to the general plan the project should also incorporate mixed commercial and industrial use, which may require preparation of a master plan.
As well, the municipal development code says that 30 percent of the project should contain retail, office, restaurant and/or business space including residential units.
In a 4 to 1 vote, the Planning Commission approved the use permit with conditions for the Palisades Townhouses project, a 34-unit townhome project on Highway 267 and Palisades Drive.
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