East West gets nod on Old Greenwood development
East West Partners’ “It’s not just about skiing anymore” philosophy moved one step away from becoming reality last Wednesday night.
After a six-hour hearing, the Town of Truckee Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend the approval of the Old Greenwood resort development, the largest project, both in the number of units and in the physical size, to come before the town officials since incorporation in 1994.
The commission’s recommendation will go to the Town Council, who will consider the project’s approval at their June 20 meeting.
The Town of Truckee Planning Department is recommending the approval of Old Greenwood, but with some changes regarding the timing and phasing of construction and the related impact fees to be paid by East West.
At last Wednesday’s vote, Commissioner Fred Zabell dissented and Commissioner Nancy Richards didn’t vote because she lives within 300 feet of the proposed development, creating a potential conflict of interest.
Commission Chair Craig Threshie, along with Commissioners Jim Jensen and Brita Tryggvi voted to recommend the project’s approval.
If the council seconds their recommendation later this month, Old Greenwood will be a mixed-use resort development on 923 acres with a residential subdivision for 104 single-family lots and 20 townhouse units.
The commercial portion with include 154 timeshare, or fractional ownership units, an 18-hole private golf course, a 50,000-square foot lodge (with 20 lodging units), a 17,000-square foot fitness center and 28-unit employee housing complex.
The proposal also includes a pro shop and a driving range.
The parcel is designated in the general plan as Open Space Recreational (OSR), zoning designed to minimize suburban sprawl and protect wildlife corridors and open space. Any development on the parcel is required to have 90 percent open space, though East West is requesting it be reduced to just over 80 percent.
Golf courses can, however, be considered open space under the general plan.
If approved with the reduced open space, East West has offered to donate up to 260 acres of the Old Greenwood north of Interstate 80 to the town or the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
In addition, in order to secure a development agreement with the town, East West has offered to make the golf course available to Tahoe Truckee High School golf team, reserve a limited number of tee times for the public and allow a local non profit to use the course one day a year in June as a fund raiser.
Access into Old Greenwood will be via Old Airport Road, approximately 300 feet east of the Interstate 80-Prosser Village off ramp.
Afterward, Chairman Threshie said he not only studied the Old Greenwood application extensivily, but previous applications submitted by prior owners as well, and walked the land several times.
“The design [of Old Greenwood] is nicely tucked into the land out there, and I felt that it would have a low visual impact,” he said.
Threshie said other factors that led to his vote for approval were the public trails within the development and the tax revenues it would generate.
“The resort will bring in a significant amount of tax revenue, both property tax and transit occupancy tax,” he said. “That is a big deal. It’s going to give [the town] a lot of revenue to work with over the years.”
And a central element in the resort development’s success will be the golf course, Threshie said.
But Zabell, the lone opposition to the project, said the golf course didn’t meet his interpretation of open space.
“There isn’t [any specific criteria] in the general plan, and we all had our own idea of what a golf course as open space should be. My interpretation was that it was not [open space]. But I think, I hope you will hear this discussion at the council level,” Zabell said afterward.
The course and the proposed developed area will cover the bulk of the 500+ plus acres on the southern portion of the property, Zabell said.
“I think the total developed area, including the golf course, should occupy a smaller portion of the total site, and leave the rest for what I consider true open space,” Zabell said.
But town planners consider the proposed clustering of the project to be sufficient and the golf course as open space.
“This is further supported by the designation of the Ponderosa Golf Course as OSR by the General Plan,” said the staff’s report to the commission.
Also in the report, staff broadly outlined the basis for its recommendation (see side bar).
Prior to the hearing, several residents, most of Olympic Heights, spoke against the project during the public comment period.
Some residents were concerned about another golf course – in addition to Old Greenwood’s course, there are at least three more proposed for the Martis Valley area – while others spoke about how another “high-end” development would prevent them from ever buying a house in the area.
They also asked that the commission delay their consideration of the project to allow for further public review.
“I felt comfortable going ahead because all this will go through another level of public review by the council. This isn’t the final decision on this,” Threshie pointed out.
East West’s other development proposal, Gray’s Crossing, is on the adjacent and previously controversial PC-2 parcel, which was acquired from the Hopkins family in the fall 2000.
Gray’s Crossing will include approximately 600 homes and condos on a private championship golf course within a resort community.
Unlike the course at Old Greenwood, there won’t be any public access to the course.
East West as said their two projects, coupled with their Coyote Moon golf course and Northstar, will significantly enhance the towns stance in the tourist industry, and will enable them to market all of these properties as a complete vacation package.
With the Gray’s Crossing and Old Greenwood parcels, East West owns approximately 10 percent of the land in Truckee town limits.
Planning Department’s recommendation for approval was based on the staff’s following conclusions:
— The project is consistent with the goals and policies of the Truckee General Plan.
— Once mitigations are incorporated into the development, it will have no significant impact(s) on the environment.
— The project is sufficiently clustered to preserve open space.
— The 27 employee housing units are enough to address the housing demand generated by the project.
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