East River St. businesses seek delay of eviction notices | SierraSun.com
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East River St. businesses seek delay of eviction notices

JOHN A. BAYLESS

Business owners renting property from Union Pacific Railroad on East River Street face eviction next week, unless ongoing discussions with the railroad result in a hoped-for extension of their leases.The railroad owns land along the tracks for the length of East River Street, and tenants of the railroad property include construction firms and three of the town’s five paving companies.The eviction notice, issued several weeks ago, leaves them with few relocation options, since industrial land is scarce in Truckee.Union Pacific spokesman Mike Furtney said the railroad has issued the cancellation notices, but is now discussing an extension of the leases with the business owners.”The real estate representative said we have issued cancellation notices to the three lessees there,” Furtney said. “The plan is to ultimately clear off their storage facilities and clean the property up. We are in discussions with at least two of the lessees who are interested in extending the cancellation or finding alternate properties.” He said it’s possible the leases could be extended until May.For Bob Sutton, owner of Robert E. Sutton Co., a paving firm, the decision by Union Pacific means a drastic change in plans, and a loss in capital investment he made on leased Union Pacific property.”Union Pacific has notified the lease holders on East River Street that the leases have been terminated,” Sutton told council members at Tuesday’s special town council meeting. “We have one more week to vacate. We have individually and collectively tried to get relief from UP, and have not been able to accomplish anything.”He appealed to the council for help, because of the town’s past dealings with the railroad. Sutton commented that Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook had spoken with Union Pacific, and requested that the time limit be extended by as much as six months on the eviction.”Some of us feel this would not be too much help,” Sutton said. “My business has been on East River since 1970 and in town since 1965. We have had a plan for five years to relocate from our riverfront location to leased railroad property. We have spent money improving the leased property. We’ve fenced it and have put in containment as required for above-ground storage tanks. We’re ready to make the move, but we can’t because of the notice.”Sutton said moving from the riverfront location would free up that land for other uses, but the railroad’s decision will force him to leave his business in its current location.And his plight is not as dire as that of many business-owners on East River, who have no other property to use for their operations.Dick Atkinson of R.S. Atkinson & Sons construction company holds a lease on 700 feet of railroad property, and subleases portions of it to seven other businesses.”There is no place to move businesses of this magnitude that is not a hardship to us,” Atkinson said. He pointed out that his business has been in operation since 1963, and provides needed services to Truckee and the area around Truckee.Pat Sutton, also of Sutton Paving, said Union Pacific’s reasons for ordering the evictions were not clear.”Could it have been the town cleanup order of two years ago?” she asked. She also questioned whether Union Pacific’s decision was based on the fact that a residential development could be planned for the neighborhood.”There is no place for these businesses to go in town that is affordable, if there is a place at all,” Pat Sutton said. “These businesses are important to the community. All have employees. All pay sales taxes and fuel taxes for the privilege of doing business.”She suggested the town do what it can to temporarily preserve the status quo – hopefully for years.Lashbrook said in his recent communications with Union Pacific, railroad officials have indicated they might extend the eviction deadline.He said according to Union Pacific officials, the eviction notices are a management decision, based on the risk of liability vs. the income received. Also, railroad officials said the leases on property subleased without the authorization of Union Pacific is automatically voided.”I followed up twice, most recently yesterday, and told them that it is wintertime in Truckee,” Lashbrook told council. “I told them it was very difficult to move and asked if the railroad could provide additional time.” He said the railroad indicated that more time could be given.”They did not indicate if a town request was needed,” Lashbrook said. “The town is not in the tenant/landlord business, but we could ask for Union Pacific to delay.”Because the issue of the evictions came up in public comment and was not agendized for the meeting, council comment and direction on the issue was limited.Councilmember Maia Schneider said that the issue pointed out the problem with lack of industrial space in the town, a sentiment also expressed by Councilmember Bob Drake.Councilmember Josh Susman said the town promised businesses on East River Street that legal nonconforming uses of the land could continue after implementation of the town’s general plan.”I don’t think we were aware that Union Pacific could pull the rug out from under them as the master landowner,” Susman said. “We need to agendize this rather soon and come up with alternatives. Even without Union Pacific doing this, the matter needs to be discussed.”Lashbrook agreed to express the town’s concerns to Union Pacific, in regard to the implementation of the General Plan, and council will agendize the topic at a later meeting.Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.comVisitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | CommunityCopyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site maynot be used without permission.About tahoe.com… 


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