Town of Truckee looking to expand influence to airport property | SierraSun.com

Town of Truckee looking to expand influence to airport property

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The town of Truckee is beginning a process that, if successful, would expand its reach to include portions of airport district land in Nevada County identified for non-aviation uses.

In an unanimous vote last week, Truckee Town Council approved town manager Tony Lashbrook to begin the process to submit a "sphere of influence" amendment application to the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission to include non-aeronautical lands outlined in the airport district's master plan update.

"It just feels like the right thing to do for the community," council member Alicia Barr said at the Jan. 12 meeting. "For all intents and purposes, it is part of the town, and to have that continuous look and feel and protect the process in the future, I think this is the right thing to do."

Under an expanded sphere of influence, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District would still own the land in question, but the town's general plan — which outlines development standards — rather than the county's general plan would serve as a guide for any projects on the property, said SR Jones, executive officer for Nevada County LAFCo.

“Typically, in the past ... anything the airport has done related to aviation or aeronautical uses, we’ve kind of taken a hands-off approach.”Jenna Endres | town of Truckee senior planner

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Council's vote comes after the airport district received an unsolicited request by an unnamed grocery retailer represented by developer JMA Ventures in October 2015, expressing interest in a long-term lease on the east side of Soaring Way for a roughly 35,000-square-foot store.

"The reason we are entertaining the request to use airport property is based on our federal grant assurance 22, which specifies non-discrimination from an economic perspective, so we are obligated to respond to people who want to use airport property," explained Hardy Bullock, director of aviation and community services for the airport district, at the meeting.

To keep the process fair and open, the airport district issued a notice in December that it's accepting letters of interest regarding non-aeronautical land leasing opportunities through this Thursday, Jan. 21.

"Typically, in the past, my understanding is anything the airport has done related to aviation or aeronautical uses, we've kind of taken a hands-off approach," Jenna Endres, town senior planner, told town council last week. "… However, recognizing that there are now areas identified for more municipal type uses — commercial, warehouse and industrial uses, and so forth — we've sort of perked up and shown that we're interested in what they are doing for lands that may not be used for aviation uses."

Since the airport master plan update identifies several acres within the district for non-aviation uses, the town and airport district will work together to identify which lands should be included in the town's sphere of influence amendment application, Endres said late last week.

The town of Truckee's current sphere of influence is approximately 2,570 acres, Jones said.

"The board hasn't had any formal discussion about … a sphere amendment," Bullock said at the town council meeting. "They are entirely supportive of that discussion and want to entertain it in a partnership type of an agreement, if you do choose to go forward with that application."

Endres confirmed that the town will work collaboratively and in close coordination an with the airport district in preparing the sphere amendment application.

As of Tuesday morning, Nevada County LAFCo had not received the town's application request, Jones said.

Until LAFCo receives the application, it's unknown how long the review process will take, she said, but it will include some level of environmental analysis.

The seven-member LAFCo commission will make the final decision, and should a majority approve the amendment, the new sphere would go into effect immediately, Jones said.

The town has budgeted $10,000 this fiscal year of general fund dollars toward this process, with approximately $5,000 covering the LAFCo application fee, Endres said.

Meanwhile, the entire cost is unknown and could include another line item in the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year budget, she said.