Council, commission ponder future development
The Truckee Town Council and planning commission left the Ponderosa Golf Course up for further discussion by recommending it be designated a special study area, outlined re-designation for six of the other 11 parcels, and remained undecided on the Hirschdale mine area north of Glenshire, at Monday’s General Plan update meeting.
The most vocal groups among the more than 50 attending the meeting were the homeowners that live around Ponderosa Golf Course and the Hualapai Nation, owners of portions of Airport Flats.
The special study area recommendation left Ponderosa homeowners with little indication of what will eventually happen to the neighboring golf course, although suggestions from the council and commission indicated that limited residential might be allowed if the course can be reconfigured to a par-3 executive layout.
Town officials repeatedly tried to agree on a designation that would balance the owner’s desire to profit from the land, and the homeowner’s strong support of preserving the course that their property borders. The owners said that the course has become less and less profitable as better 18-hole courses spring up throughout town and more people opt for cheaper, year-round golf near Reno.
“A nine-hole seasonal golf course cannot compete with a 18-hole championship golf course,” said John Steinbuch, representing the Himsl family, owners of the property. Steinbuch noted that the course play has decreased 20 percent in the last 10 years, and if the trend continues, the owners will have no choice except to sell or abandon the property as a golf course.
“We are committed to representing the homeowners and providing an open space buffer,” said Steinbuch.
A procession of homeowners followed Steinbuch to talk about the course, refuting the idea that the course could not be maintained at a profit.
“I see a different golf course than the owners see,” said Dave Lawrence, homeowner across from the ninth green. Lawrence has worked at the pro shop and on the greens, and said that the course still attracts golfers and could be profitable if run correctly.
“They sold our lots, our home sites to us as golf course property,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t buy my home to see a service station.”
Maryann Hazwell, longtime Truckee resident, said that the owners had not put money into Ponderosa, and that the course should have always been public.
“There wasn’t any money sunk into that golf course,” said Hazwell. “It’s not like it is a million-dollar operation.
“That property should never have been sold to begin with,” she said.
Kary Kielhofer, son of Betty Kielhofer – one of the founders of the course – reviewed the history of the course and the price of the original sale – $160,000.
“What a tremendous amount of money has been made on $160,000,” said Kielhofer. “My mom worked very hard for 4 years along with 300 to 400 other people.”
Kielhofer emphasized that the course was built with a large amount of volunteer work, and the owners profited enough from the land when they collected the money from each golf course home site sale.
Dan Cockrum, representing Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, noted that it is not the responsibility of the council to enhance land values, and Denny Dickinson said that any development on the land would be affected by the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan that is being formulated.
Commissioner Nancy Richards said, “I think that it is a community value as OSR, (it’s current designation – Open Space Recreation) and I think to change it now would be premature.”
While town officials strongly support preserving the course, they noted that even if the land remains as Open Space Recreation (its current designation) the owners could still abandon the course and develop the land with one house per 10 acres. They eventually decided to change the designation to a special study area, so that a public discussion could better decide the appropriate future of the land.
The Hualapai Nation expressed deep disappointment in the council and planning commission’s strong recommendation that the Airport Flats land, between Interstate 80 and Glenshire Drive, remain Resource Conservation/Open space. Several representatives of the nation had traveled from Arizona for the last four land use re-designation meetings.
“We just want to be treated fairly,” said Erin Forrest, director of public works for the nation. “We’re not asking a lot.
“You can still have your corridor. You can still have your view to the hills,” Forrest said. “To keep it the same land use does not make sense.”
However, the council and commission agreed that because of wetlands, the lack of trees, deer migration routes, and the scenic viewshed, it should remain largely undeveloped. The parcel of land in the past General Plan and county plans before that, had been identified as a strategic scenic corridor.
Six other sites changed significantly.
— Planned Community 1 near Donner State Park (Planned Community)- recommended for commercial development, open space and housing. Lodging facilities and mixed-use development were specifics suggested for the site.
— Upper McIver Dairy near Tahoe Forest Hospital (Resource Conservation/Open Space)- recommended for senior and affordable housing.
— Alder Drive PC-2 (Planned Community)- recommended for open space.
— Commercial Triangle (Planned Community)- recommended as public with a community center emphasis.
— Joerger Drive (Resource Conservation/Open Space and Public)- recommended as open space largely with light Industrial south of Joerger Drive. The Corporation Yard portion was recommended as Open Space and Public.
— Comstock Drive area, north of Bridge Street (Residential)- recommended as residential, industrial and open space, with the topography and surrounding land uses determining the positioning of the designations.
The only undecided issue was the Hirschdale mine site. The town mostly agreed that the upper portion should stay Open Space after the mine ceases operation, but the lower half, zoned residential, could not be agreed on. The council and commission agreed to notify the landowner that his site was being looked at as being re-designated open space, and the town officials will take the time to gather information on the site and look at it designation more closely at the next meeting.
The other sites that remained the same were the middle school site on Donner Pass Road (Public) and McIver Hill (Special Study Area) with an emphasis on an college or educational facility.
These recommendation will go into the Draft General Plan. Additional public comment will be received after the draft is released. The designation could change depending on technical information including the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan. The next General Plan Update meeting will be held at Truckee Town Hall at 6 p.m. on March 15. The workshop will examine the implementation of the preferred alternatives.