Council weighs initiative effects on general plan: No agreement reached following joint eight-hour meeting this week
Town staff released its preliminary review of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation’s initiative outlining effects the proposed ballot measure would have on Truckee’s General Plan.
At last week’s town council meeting, Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said should the initiative pass it would modify future land use standards for Planned Community 2 – an undeveloped area located north of the Highway 89-Interstate 80 intersection. Builders have proposed, but not submitted, a site plan for a 789-acre residential, commercial, recreational and open space development on PC-2, called Boca Sierra Estates.
MAPF’s initiative proposes a general plan amendment that, if passed by a majority of voters, would alter land use designations at PC-2.
The town council scheduled a meeting May 6, which included representatives from MAPF, Boca Sierra Estates and the Town of Truckee, in an attempt to end the initiative process before it gets started. At that meeting Town Manager Steve Wright, Councilman Don McCormack and Lashbrook represented Truckee; Tom Albright, Stefanie Olivieri and Richard Taylor represented MAPF; and Brian Mullins, Dale Creighton and Jim Porter represented PC-2. Town Attorney Dennis Crabb facilitated the meeting.
Wright said the three sides met for more than eight hours and a compromise could not be reached. Although none were scheduled, future meetings might be set up.
In his staff report, Lashbrook said the initiative seems straightforward at first glance, but under careful analysis the potential effects on the general plan are many.
“On its face, the initiative looks simple and straightforward; it should not be difficult to quantify its impacts,” Lashbrook said. “After 10 days of sporadic analysis, however, we continue to identify significant general plan issues.
“This report does not contain the complete analysis of this issue and realistically that analysis will not be complete for several weeks.”
The initiative would reduce potential commercial space square footage from 175,000 to 15,000 and eliminate the site’s potential for a resort hotel and recreation facility, Lashbrook said. In addition, any future amendments to the general plan regarding PC-2 would require a majority vote of the public.
Also required under the initiative is a majority public vote to change any resource conservation-open space land designations to another land use or to add land uses not listed. The public vote requirement would end Dec. 31, 2020.
In terms of the resort hotel and commercial recreation designations at PC-2, Lashbrook said increasing
the number of lodging beds in town was discussed at length during the general plan process. Lashbrook cited Conservation and Open Space Policy 8.2 which states, “Encourage the development of destination resorts incorporating outdoor recreation facilities. Consider incentives for recreational facilities open to public use.”
“Land use policies for PC-2 were established, in part, in response to this policy directive,” Lashbrook said.
There are areas in town where the general plan permits lodging facilities – in the downtown area and at the Teichert property off Cold Stream Road. PC-2, however, is the only site allowing for a significant outdoor recreation-oriented resort, Lashbrook said.
The initiative could force a resort outside of Truckee, which would have fiscal ramifications for the town in terms of limiting Truckee’s visitor numbers. This, in turn, could affect the commercial expansion drive in the downtown commercial core, Lashbrook said.
“The direct fiscal loss to the town would be over $600,000 per year, including $547,500 in bed tax, $40,000 in property tax and $41,000 in sales tax,” Lashbrook said. “More significant is the loss of total taxable sales to the region of roughly $5.4 million per year.”
In limiting the amount of commercial space available at PC-2, the initiative may create concerns with traffic and fiscal analysis included in the general plan. It could also raise conflicts with policies supporting mixed use development and establishing services in larger neighborhoods, according to town staff.
Lashbrook said it was staff’s understanding that commercial within PC-2 was intended to serve residents and visitors at the site, residents along the Highway 89 corridor and residents in the greater Truckee area. Commercial demand from existing housing in the area, as well as buildout of parcels in Coachland, Prosser Heights, Prosser Lake View and Prosser Dam Road in roughly 35,000 square feet, Lashbrook said.
“Based upon these issues it is unknown whether sufficient area exists in this corridor to serve the neighborhood demand if the initiative passes,” Lashbrook said.
Lashbrook also said traffic concerns would also need to be analyzed. Because of the study’s complexity, however, the analysis will not be available until next month.
The initiative would also create long-term fiscal issues in regard to implementing the general plan. The loss of potential commercial in PC-2 would render the town unable to add commercial development as demand increases, causing a loss in revenue.
“If development does not occur on PC-2, the community would lose any long-term fiscal benefits that could accrue, in addition to potential benefits associated with infrastructure,” Lashbrook said, adding missed indirect benefits include running sewer lines to the Prosser Lakeview subdivision.
Short-term fiscal impacts identified by town staff relate to election costs and future lawsuits that might arise in regard to the initiative.
Truckee Mayor Bob Drake said, “The atmosphere of cooperation was obvious at the meeting. I am disappointed a compromise could not be reached Tuesday.”
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