Council pulls bond on Wolfe Estates
Truckee Town Council voted unanimously last week to accept the $276,588 performance bond posted by Wolfe Development in 1994 to guarantee road and utility improvements in Wolfe Estates Phase IV, despite the objections of the developer’s representative.
“Please do not fight a battle with my client that will only result in more delays in construction and a need for our tax dollars to be spent on a pending legal battle that only you can avert,” Land Use Planner and Wolfe Development’s representative Jean Solberg said before council, minutes before it made its decision to accept the bond.
Wolfe Development failed to meet the terms of its original 1994 contract with the town, which was later extended twice at Wolfe Development’s request. The improvements were also never made under the terms of the contract extensions.
When the final contract extension expired last July, Developer’s Insurance Co., which held the performance bond, sought bids on the cost of completing the contracted road and utility improvements. Two bids were received which estimated the cost would exceed the performance bond amount by about $80,000.
Since then, Wolfe Development’s representative and subcontractors, the Town of Truckee and the four concerned property owners have extensively discussed options regarding the improvements in question.
Ron Stover, the president of Wolfe Development, Inc., has not appeared to discuss these options, despite council’s mandates that he do so.
“The goal throughout this entire process has been to get the improvements completed,” Councilmember Josh Susman said.
At issue is whether it is the town’s responsibility or the property owners’ responsibility to fund the projected $80,000 improvement completion shortfall amount. For this reason, Mayor Maia Schneider asked property owner Tino Serrano if the Phase IV property owners had formed any formal organization with which the town could negotiate.
“We do not have that legal piece of machinery in place,” Serrano said. “That’s something we very much want to do.”
In addition to threatening litigation, Solberg once again proposed a new Wolfe Development plan for completing the improvements, just as she has done at all previous council meetings in which performance bond acceptance was considered.
“I did come to council believing that Wolfe Development would actually follow through with this,” property owner Dennis Austin said. “It’s only a hunch.”
When pressed by council on his stance regarding bond acceptance, Austin told council he thought they should pull the bond, despite his hunch that Wolfe might perform this time.
“The whole thing’s just crazy,” Austin said. “The property owner will go from being dependent on Wolfe Development to finish this project to being dependent on the town to finish. I hope that this works.
“I hope we can count on you,” he added.
After hearing from the property owners, councilmember Don McCormack said that the issue had only gone on as long as it had because council had been concerned with meeting the wishes of the concerned property owners.
“I think the thing you probably can count on is that litigation will delay [construction],” McCormack said.
Councilmember Bob Drake said that the town would hold the bond payment in trust as efforts to complete the improvements proceed.
“The moral and ethical misfeasance performed and demonstrated by this developer, the contractor and the land use planner are, in my judgment, unparalleled in Truckee’s history and despicable, whatever the reason for their inability to complete this troubled project,” Drake said. “This group is attempting to financially punish the very people it was designed to serve … I will vote to revoke the bond with the intent to bring positive closure for the property owners, allowing them to proceed with use of their property.”
In other business:
– Council received a report that the Local Agency Formation Commission voted 4 to 3 in Nevada City to petition bids for a study of special district and Town of Truckee authority in the Truckee area.
– Council adopted Resolution 2000-24 supporting five local projects seeking $1.2 million in early funding through the Park and Water bond passed by California voters in March.
– Town Manager Steve Wright received authorization to execute a contract with LSC Transportation Consultants to provide on-call engineering services associated with various planning applications. The cost of work completed by LSC will be funded by the project applicants.
– The town accepted Pine Cone Road into its town maintained road system.
– Town Engineer Dan Wilkins received authorization to advertise the 2000 Slurry Seal contract for construction bids.
– After Councilmember Susman requested that the Planned Community 2 and Peoria – Sunnyside projects be included, council approved the town’s preliminary work plan as established at this year’s team building workshop.
“It’s always good to renew the relationships between staff,” Councilmember Ron Florian said regarding the workshop.
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