Changed Hilltop goes back for review
Despite changes to a large development proposed for a hill overlooking downtown Truckee, neighbors and an environmental group still take issue with the project as it goes before the Truckee Planning Commission tonight.Concerns over environmental impacts, preservation of the historic ski hill, traffic, and commercial competition with downtown spurned revisions to the Hilltop project after being initially approved by the planning commission earlier this year. The proposed development sits on 57 acres near the Cottonwood restaurant.We had a lot of issues with the project, some have been worked out and some havent, said John Eaton, president of Mountain Area Preservation Foundation.Some changes Eaton said he approved of were how the development was rearranged to preserve the historic ski hill and the end of the Great Ski Race, protection of wetlands, and public involvement in tree preservation.Dale Creighton of SCO Planning andamp; Engineering said they also adjusted the alignment of the planned Truckee River Legacy Trail in response to public requests and completed an economic analysis for the project.But Eaton said he is disappointed in the economic analysis and the amount of commercial development included in the project.Its critical to preserve downtown, Eaton said. This was once mainly a residential project, which would have been fine.Project neighbor Andrew Esler said his biggest concern is traffic.Were looking at a monstrous commercial space generating 5,500 car trips per day, Esler said.But town staff and developers say theyve addressed those issues as well.As each individual development within the Hilltop Master Plan comes forward, the traffic impacts will be assessed, and once traffic reaches 62 percent of the potential maximum, the town could halt further development, said Jaime LaChance, assistant planner for the town.There have been several community members trying to increase public participation, and we appreciate those efforts because it means more information for our decision makers, LaChance said. But there is a lot of misinformation out there.Creighton agreed, saying, Im miffed at MAPF and some of the neighbors circulating out of date information.Because the Hilltop Master Plan is a general document, requiring separate applications for each land owner to actually develop, Creighton said there is no planned timeline for development to occur on site.Of the four property owners, only one is seeking to go forward with a small office complex and residential lofts, Creighton said. Buildout will reflect market demand.If the master plan is approved and then the specific project is subsequently approved, Creighton said that property owners could begin construction this summer or next.