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Council prioritizess historic update

ANNE GROGAN, Sierra Sun

Town council acted Thursday to expedite completion of the downtown Historic Resources Inventory update.

Until the resources inventory is completed, no downtown properties, with the exception of one, will receive interim consideration of historic significance, council decided.

Town planning staff will not devote their efforts toward development of an interim evaluation plan but will instead work toward completing the inventory as quickly as possible.

“We’re looking at, best case, nine months,” Town Planner Duane Hall said.

Mayor Maia Schneider and Council member Bob Drake each said they do not anticipate completion of the inventory before 18 months from now.

“Your nine months is nuts,” Drake said.

Background

A draft update to Truckee’s Historic Resources Inventory was completed by Kautz Environmental Consultants of Reno in April, 1999. The draft inventory outlined the boundaries of a historic National Register District and included the National Register status of all buildings in the downtown area pre-dating the 1950s.

Council decided in response to Truckee Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee recommendations, that the Kautz historic resources inventory will be expanded to include buildings and other points of interest that do not meet the strict federal district standards but which in some way contributed to Truckee’s history.

Impacts

Downtown buildings will be classified under the completed and adopted Historic Resources Inventory and those found to be of historic significance will likely be slated for preservation, affecting planning decisions and potentially limiting the rights of property owners.

Until the inventory is complete and classification guidelines are precisely defined, council decided Thursday, down town properties cannot be confidently classified as historic or non-historic.

As a result of council’s agreement, town planning staff will not evaluate the historic significance of individual downtown properties predating 1950, with the exception of one, until after the inventory is complete.

This means that downtown property owners wishing to demolish a building predating 1940 must seek determination of economic hardship from town council as outlined in the Downtown Specific Plan, Hall said.

The downtown property exempted from Thursday’s council decision is the Taylor/Giacomini property.

In May of last year, David Taylor and David Giacomini requested that the Town of Truckee evaluate the historic significance of a downtown property they own. The two plan to demolish the building in order to construct an office building.

Taylor and Giacomini have applied for permits to pursue the projects. Those permit applications, because they are on file, are considered “in the pipeline.”

The Taylor/Giacomini Jibboom Street property, known as Dot’s Place, predates 1940 and is reputed to have added to the history of prostitution in Truckee. But the building has been remodeled considerably over the years, reducing the likelihood that it is architecturally of historic significance. In addition, Dot did not make a draft roster of significant people in Truckee’s history, as Giacomini pointed out.

“I don’t think anyone even knows who Dot was,” he said.

Several members of the community addressed council on the historic inventory issue.

Local historian Guy Coates urged town council to prioritize completion of the historic inventory.

“A lot of homes are in danger,” Coates said. “They are all pieces of the mosaic that makes Truckee the place we all want to live in.”

Truckee residents Chelsea Waltersheid, Steve Frisch and Sharon Arnold agreed. Arnold added that should the Taylor/Giacomini property be demolished, in addition to the Grossman and Hunt downtown properties also facing demolition, 27 percent of older, potentially historic buildings in downtown Truckee will be lost.

“If you lose too many of them, you don’t qualify on the National Register,” Arnold said.

Mayor Schneider said in looking at both the historic and economic sides of the equation, she was torn on the issue .

“I’d like to see Mr. Giacomini’s project go forward but we may be endangering the downtown historic district,” Schneider said.

Council member Don McCormack suggested that planning staff would require a set of standards according to which the Taylor/Giacomini property would be judged.

“We need standards for items in the pipeline,” McCormack said.

Town council agreed unanimously to prioritize completion of the inventory and to evaluate the historic significance of only the Taylor/Giacomini downtown property until the inventory is completed. Council also prioritized defining the standards by which the Taylor/Giacomini property will be evaluated.

All council members said that town planning staff must be increased to meet former and new demands on the planning department.


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