Developers moving forward with construction in Raley’s development despite lawsuit | SierraSun.com

Developers moving forward with construction in Raley’s development despite lawsuit

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

Rendering of Raley's project planned for Soaring Ranch area of Truckee.

Despite pending litigation against the Town of Truckee for approving the development of a Raley's grocery store at Soaring Ranch, Art Chapman, the developer behind the project says he plans to continue with construction.

"The town approved the plan, so we are moving forward with it," he said.

Last week Chapman presented a settlement offer to plaintiffs on the lawsuit, Stephanie Olivieri and Protect CEQA, which aimed to mitigate Olivieri's concerns with the lack of workforce housing included in the project.

The settlement presented an updated project plan in which the developer proposed to include more than 150 housing units in the project. The building would also focus on filling the space with companies that would not take away business from downtown tourism retail shops, primarily housing service companies such as banks, insurance agencies, real estate offices, cleaners or pharmacies.

Olivieri said the offer was still not acceptable as the housing included in the project would not be concurrent with the development of the Raley's. She said the project would be "acceptable" if the housing was constructed at the same time or before the Raley's was built.

According to both parties, the discussion lasted a few hours but an agreement was not reached.

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A court order has not been made that officially halts project construction. However, if the project moves forward as Chapman has suggested, his company, JMA Ventures, risks facing penalties if a judge rules against them.

"If they end up losing the lawsuit, it's at the developer's risk," said Truckee Town Manager Jeff Loux, adding that even after town approval the project must fulfill other requirements which include obtaining a site-engineering permit and a building permit.

Chapman said they plan to lay groundwork for the project in August.

After the Truckee Town Council made the decision to approve construction of a 35,700-square-foot Raley's project at Soaring Ranch, Olivieri, owner of Cobona's, and Protect CEQA, an organization set up to uphold California's Environmental Quality Act, filed the lawsuit against the Town of Truckee over the approval.

In addition to a perceived lack of workforce housing in the original proposal, Olivieri says there has not been adequate studies done to analyze the effect three new grocery store would have on existing grocery stores such as Safeway, Save Mart and New Moon Natural Foods.

Originally, Truckee received proposals for three new grocery stores, Raley's, Grocery Outlet and Nugget Markets, which backed out of the Railyard development project following the approval of the Raley's store. Grocery Outlet was approved by the planning commission on April 26, and was appealed by neighboring residents two days later.

Loux said the town is preparing to defend its approval.

"We, the town, feel like we did our part and followed our planning procedures and regulations," Loux said.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.