Tahoe Area Plan talks focus on old K-2 school, development rights and more
Special to the Bonanza
About the plan
Once approved, the Tahoe Area Plan will accomplish, according to Washoe County, the following:
• Establish the long term vision and desired character of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area.
• Lay out goals and policies to help achieve that vision.
• Update the Washoe County Development Code as it relates to the Tahoe Basin.
More online: Visit http://bit.ly/2eg1a8z to learn more about the plan. There, you can download all the maps, as well as the current 29-page draft plan.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Following the community input received at a Sept. 28 workshop, the Washoe County Planning Department recently updated its draft of the Tahoe Area Plan and presented it at an Oct. 13 special meeting of the Incline Village-Crystal Bay Citizens Advisory Board.
Since the TRPA released its basin-wide Regional Plan Update in 2012, it has prompted jurisdictions around Lake Tahoe to update their own community plans.
Back in 2013, Washoe County staff Eric Young and Eva Krause began working on an updated draft of the Tahoe Area Plan covering Incline Village/Crystal Bay; after months of no momentum, the project started to gain ground this summer.
“What we have here is the very first draft of the Tahoe Area Master Plan, and it’s still under development because we haven’t heard enough from you yet,” said Young, addressing a room of about 20 people on Oct. 13. “We want to provide a contemporary plan that also provides conformance with the TRPA plan.”
Young said the Tahoe Area Plan aims to balance a residential community with needed tourism for the economy, while solidifying the link among the goals, policies and character of the region.
TRANSFERRING DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
At the Oct. 13 meeting, Krause and Young addressed questions asked at the Sept. 28 meeting, one of the main being why there are so many different maps, goals and policies proposed.
“You can support bikes, trails and walkways, but you need the map to show where all of this is,” Young said. “There is a specific purpose between each map to really show what’s on the ground.”
“Right now, there are four community plans with 6-7 different areas within each plan,” Krause added. “It’s always been very confusing for what you can and can’t do … especially in commercial areas, there have been differences in what you can build or not.
“We’re not going to say, ‘you can have bike rentals at the Hyatt, but not at the Biltmore.”
Krause added that structures within commercial zones are all going to be subject to the same rules with the new plan.
Another big change with the Tahoe Area Plan is consideration of TRPA offering a transfer of development rights as incentive to builders who are willing to take development from a residential area and relocate their project into a town center.
“TRPA is trying to incentivize people to redistribute their development rights to eventually be able to get those structures out of the woods,” says Krause.
Transferring development rights into a town center will allow a builder to develop a structure of increased height and density, according to the county.
Local real estate broker Trevor Smith said the Tahoe Area Plan needs to be flexible, but it shouldn’t force developers to do something that doesn’t make sense for the community, especially with the community’s biggest limitation being coverage/space.
“There will never be enough parking in the town centers,” he said.
Washoe County Planning Department Director Bill Whitney responded by saying, “We won’t let the TRPA push us on things we don’t want.”
Smith added, “We need to come up with some creative solutions, otherwise we end up with a dated town.”
OTHER CONCERNS TO ADDRESS
Incline Village resident Steve Hanson said he is concerned about traffic on College Drive, considering it is used as a main thoroughfare from Highway 431 to bypass the roundabout at the Highway 28 intersection in order to get to town.
“Both sides of College have been labelled urban residential, but there are no crosswalks, multi-use pathways or shoulders,” he said.
Young said the planning department can identify some areas on the map with College Drive improvements, stressing again the importance of the maps needing to be in depth to ensure several community planning aspects are considered.
“When it’s on the map, it helps push it through,” he said. “But keep in mind that the money needed to build sidewalks, lights and multi-use pathways is only a fraction of the total cost to keep it maintained throughout the years.”
The community has also been interested in how the old Incline Elementary School on Southwood Avenue, near the Highway 28 intersection, is being zoned.
The building — which rests on a fault line and would cost millions of dollars to repair and maintain — and its surrounding property has lay mostly dormant since the school shuttered in 2009.
“The (Washoe County School District) has not decided what to do with it,” Young said last week. “We know the community is salivating over that site and we’re trying to get an answer from them before the final plan comes out.
“Zoning changes are a lot easier to make than Master Plan changes; we are talking to the school board commissioner about allowing semi-public use of that site,.”
The Tahoe Area Plan remains in draft status, and residents are encouraged to provide feedback to the county. As of now, a timeline for a final plan to be proposed and potentially adopted is not known.
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.