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Cohousing backers divided over site location

Sierra Sun file photoA cohousing community in Nevada City features brightly painted townhomes. Plans for Truckee's first cohousing project briefly stalled when questions were raised about the proposed site within the Hilltop project area.
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Proponents of Truckees first cohousing project are looking for more interested households, but a split over the choice of a site could further reduce the number of participants.Cohousing, a group of individually owned homes and communal space and communal buildings, is meant to lower costs and replicate an old-fashioned neighborhood. Truckees first foray into this type of housing community, started in October 2006, had been planned for 2.75 acres of the Hilltop development overlooking downtown.We are still waiting for the Hilltop Master Plan to be reviewed by the planning commission, said Cole Butler, a potential resident of the cohousing community and former planning commissioner. Once the master plan is approved, then there will be a lot more action in workshops and planning for potential owners.So far, Butler said about 12 households are involved in the project, out of a potential 30 to 33 units to be built.But interest in a location that is less shady than the Hilltop site has led some members to consider an alternative the Bright Property on the other side of the Truckee River from West River Street, she said.There was interest in the group for housing solar studies, so some members checked out equipment from PG&E, Butler said. The Bright Property is a flatter and, yes, there is interest in a sunny site, but right now there is no deal on the table.That leaves those who want to build and live in a cohousing community sooner rather than later hoping the Hilltop project can move faster through the planning process, Butler said.No one is opposed to the Bright site; if it gets approved faster than Hilltop, everybody would say, Lets live in the sun and as fast as we can, Butler said. But if it takes seven or more years, then a familys kids will already be done with school.Tracy Geraghty, another prospective homeowner in the cohousing project, said she heard the Bright Family decided a cohousing community isnt the best use of the land, so somewhere between eight and nine households will be moving forward at Hilltop.The sense with the group is we are now done looking elsewhere, and its time to figure out why the plan is stuck, Geraghty said.While basic plans for the numbers of units and total acreage havent changed, Geraghty said the original 2010 completion date for the cohousing project may now be in question, but said she hopes the innovative development can still move forward by that date.Jaime LaChance, an assistant planner with the Town of Truckee said staff is still working on the Hilltop Master Plan, and expects a public workshop in four to six weeks, followed by planning commission and town council reviews.Once the master plan is approved, zoning is adopted, then individual project owners (like the cohousing project) can apply for development permits, LaChance said.


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