Decision delayed on Siller Ranch proposal
A large number of last-minute letters caused the Placer County Planning Commission on Thursday to postpone its decision on the Siller Ranch subdivision, one of the larger projects proposed under the controversial Martis Valley Community Plan.
Commissioners voted unanimously to support the recommendation of Placer County’s planning staff to postpone any action until June 24, when they could better respond to the concerns raised by the public. Almost 100 people crowded into the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach on Thursday for the commission’s discussion and possible action on the proposed 2,177-acre Siller Ranch proposal. The 726-home gated community is slated to include a 500-seat amphitheater, 27 holes of golf, tennis courts and swimming pools.
Most of those at the meeting came to voice their disapproval of aspects of the project – or of the project in its entirety. Concerns ranged from water quality, affordable housing, and the subdivision’s effects on traffic and trails in the region.
That decision to postpone the hearing disappointed Ron Parr of the DMB Highlands Group, the developer of the proposed subdivision. Parr gave a 20-minute presentation outlining the project and the plans DMB Highlands Group has put in place to mitigate many of the concerns of local residents and other stakeholders.
But those plans did not go far enough, according to concerned citizens and groups represented at the meeting. Both Rachelle Pellisier, executive director of the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, and Tony Lashbrook, community development director for the Town of Truckee, expressed their concern over the number of affordable housing units that would be created by the subdivision’s developer. Both also wanted to ensure that workforce housing be created at the time of, or soon after, any jobs that are created.
Others worried about the effects the subdivision would have on the natural environment in the Martis Valley.
Tom Mooers, executive director of the environmental group Sierra Watch, urged Planning Commissioners to deny approval of the project. Sierra Watch and several other environmental groups have a lawsuit pending against Placer County’s approval of the Martis Valley Community Plan, the document that is supposed to guide growth in the area.
“Instead of clustered development and protection of unfragmented open space,” Mooers said, “the site is entirely carved up into subdivisions, cul-de-sacs and golf courses. It looks like something we’d see in L.A. or Orange County or San Jose, not Truckee, Tahoe or Martis Valley.”
Truckee resident Laurel Lippert asked commissioners to deny the project, or at least take a very critical look at the proposal “because once these floodgates are open and the Siller Ranch gates are closed, we can’t go back.”
She, along with many other Truckee and Northstar residents in the audience, objected to the loss of access the public would have to the lands of the Martis Valley once the gated community was built.
Perhaps most influential in the commission’s decision to postpone any decision on the project was a letter received by Placer County planning staff from the Department of Fish and Game expressing concerns over the subdivision’s potential effects on water quality and its effect on the Martis Creek Lake downstream.
Commissioners agreed that there were enough concerns to delay any decision on the project, but also expressed their frustration that so many of those concerns came in at the very last minute – some just one day before the meeting.
Further discussion and a potential decision on the Siller Ranch subdivision will take place at the next Placer County Planning Commission meeting scheduled for June 24 at 2 p.m. at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach.
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