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Donated land aids preservation effort

Lara Mullin, Sierra Sun

The Truckee Donner Land Trust recently received a property donation that could result in the largest single gift in the organization’s 10-year history.

Philip Morris Capital Corporation of Stamford, Conn., made the donation of nearly 11 acres in the Tahoe Donner subdivision.

“This is an absolute blessing for the Truckee Donner Land Trust and our work to preserve threatened lands in the area,” Land Trust Executive Directory Perry Norris said.

Several years ago Phillip Morris acquired DART, the original developers of the Tahoe Donner sub-division. Citing a desire “to give back to the community,” the multi-national conglomerate contacted the Land Trust in October of last year to inquire if it would be interested in accepting the donation, stating a community interest.

“We’re just happy to help out the local community and support future conservation efforts,” said Phillip Morris representative Earl Morey.

While the Land Trust usually works to protect open space by barring sale and building on open space, they will not be holding on to the Tahoe Donner parcel of land for long.

“The land has fairly minimal public benefits and values as it is part of an existing neighborhood area,” said Norris. “By selling the plot, we can use the money toward other projects that are more aligned with our future conservation effort.

“The property itself, while appreciated as a green belt by local residents, does not offer enough significant public benefit for the Land Trust to justify maintaining it exclusively as open space.”

While this sale may concern Tahoe Donner residents, Norris assures that the Land Trust has been receptive to local homeowners’ concerns over the fate of the 11 acres.

Members of the Trust’s Board met with homeowners adjoining the Oslo Loop property and agreed to restrict development on the property to a single residence, comply with Tahoe Donner covenants and restrictions and to give the homeowners a 60-day rite of refusal to match any offer.

“Our hope is that the homeowners can raise the funds to purchase the property,” Norris said.

One Tahoe Donner resident was confident in the Land Trust’s decision.

“Short of the property remaining open space, the Land Trust was certainly our best option. They listened and responded to our concerns,” explained Mike Turner, the Chair of an ad hoc committee of homeowners. “For all of us who have homes surrounding the property, deed restrictions negotiated with the Land Trust gave us assurance that any development would be of reasonable scale.”

The property is listed with Chase International Realty for $649,000, an amount that will go a long way toward funding the Land Trust’s current projects.

Founded in 1990, the Truckee Donner Land Trust is a local non-profit grass roots organization that works to preserve and protect open space in the Truckee/North Tahoe region.

Currently, the Trust is working on a 2,000-acre acquisition that includes Schallenberger Ridge, the ridgeline above Donner Lake.

“We feel very proud of our negotiations with the homeowners. We were able to mitigate their concerns and get to what everyone I believe involved considers a win-win situation,” TDLT Board member Jim Olmsted said. “At the same time, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make the best use of this windfall gift.”


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