Development debate starts over ‘Siller Ranch’ |

Development debate starts over ‘Siller Ranch’

Hitting the radar screen shortly after the release of a new section of the Martis Valley Community Plan, a 2,177-acre development adjacent to Schaffer Mill Road is being considered by the Placer County planning department – and picked apart by Truckee officials.

“It’s so big the Sierra Sun doesn’t have enough ink or paper to print it,” said Truckee Mayor Ted Owens. The Truckee Town Council discussed DMB Highlands’ proposed Siller Ranch project at the March 20 meeting and drafted a letter to Placer County about possible impacts on Truckee if the project is approved.

The subdivision plans include 595 single-family homes, 131 multi-family residences and approximately 200,000 square-feet of community, recreation and maintenance facilities.

An 18-hole golf course, par-3 nine-hole course and an 18-hole putting course, along with a 60,000-square-foot clubhouse and 10,000-square-foot family recreation complex are also included in plans.

Single-family lots may range in size from three-quarters of an acre to five acres each.

If the project, along with an agreement that would exempt the development from future planning document changes, is approved, DMB Highlands Group, also the developer of the high-end Lahontan development, would most likely be subject to stricter regulations on employee and affordable housing.

The employee-housing ordinance applies specifically to the Sierra region and North Lake Tahoe, and requires that 50 percent of the employees generated by a project be provided with workforce housing by the developer.

The ordinances identify a “hierarchy” of county preferences for affordable housing – requiring that developers first consider on-site housing, followed by off-site housing, dedication of land for construction of employee units and payment of an in-lieu fee.

Placer County Planning Director Fred Yaeger said the Siller Ranch project will most likely be affected by the housing ordinances, and the developer has already been asked to consider on-site employee housing.

As for the 30-year-old Martis Valley Community Plan, Siller Ranch can be approved before the plan is complete and in effect.

“The county has been consistent with that for other development going on concurrently,” Yaeger said. “The county has elected not to adopt a moratorium.”

In a seven-page letter outlining Truckee officials’ concerns about the proposed plan, the town council cited possible traffic congestion, air quality, water supplies, noise and affordable housing as issues that need to be addressed by an environmental impact report.

The council suggested a fee to offset traffic impacts that could be caused by the development.

Although the initial study of the project application implies that the project will not have an impact on scenic vistas or highways, the town council disagreed.

“The project will result in the construction of single-family homes, recreational buildings and other supporting structures; the conversion of natural open space to golf course greens; and the removal of trees for ski runs and lifts in the southern portion of the site. With these modifications to the existing environment and their proximity to the Martis Creek National Recreation Area, State Highway 267, and the Northstar-at-Tahoe resort and subdivision … the project will have potentially significant visual and aesthetic impacts,” the letter stated.

The town council also questioned the logic of approving individual projects while the Martis Valley Community Plan is still in the update process, saying it “may effectively limit planning policies, alternatives and options that may be considered by Placer County as part of the [community plan].”

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