Truckee brewery approved amid concerns of business non-compliance | SierraSun.com

Truckee brewery approved amid concerns of business non-compliance

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

A look at the proposed site location off West River Street in Truckee.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee Town Council's approval last week of FiftyFifty's new brewing project on West River Street may also be the catalyst for an overhaul of businesses already operating in the area.

Council members unanimously approved Truckee Brewing Company's application for a 18,500-square-foot facility on June 23.

However, the OK to build on a 7.8-acre parcel between 10925 and 10855 West River Street, adjacent to the Truckee River, came with conditions.

Staff and council members spent hours examining concerns over future site uses, environmental impact and public access to the Truckee River, spending the most time on the topic of zoning code compliance.

The issue goes back at least 30 years, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook, and concerns both legal and illegal nonconforming businesses that have been allowed to operate without reform on the parcel.

Since some of those businesses operate on land now owned by TBC, as part of the June 23 approval, the town will require nonconforming businesses to become code compliant, or be forced to relocate or close shop.

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Generally, uses that are located within buildings that were approved for the use (i.e., auto repair) under zoning rules that existed prior to 1997 are considered legal, nonconforming uses and will be allowed to continue, Lashbrook explained in a follow-up interview.

"Use that involves significant outdoor storage or outdoor use are likely illegal and probably will not be allowed to continue under this agreement," Lashbrook said. "One of our primary goals is to have all of the 'junk material' that is not an actively part of a meaningful business, removed from the property."

'SOME TOUGH DECISIONS'

Another major goal, Lashbrook said, is to ensure those areas that do legitimately have outdoor storage, parking or work sites are clearly defined in the town's code, both for the benefit of the business and the community.

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READ MORE: Amid logistical challenges and conflict of interest concerns, the Truckee Planning Commission on May 19 approved FiftyFifty's construction application.

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"This may require some tough decisions for some of the business owners who have been on these sites for some time," Jenna Endres, senior planner for the town, said at the June 23 meeting, adding that businesses considered legally nonconforming would essentially be "grandfathered" in without required compliance.

"The first step will be working with the property owner(s) to identify and inventory which businesses fall in which category," she said.

Other businesses on that parcel, however, have operated without proper permitting or on lands designated for different zoning, Endres explained, and would be considered illegally nonconforming.

"Code compliance is probably the biggest issue facing these existing properties," said TBC and FiftyFifty Brewing Co. co-owner Andy Barr. "There are some historical illegal uses that existed well before we acquired the properties that need to be dealt with in a timely manner."

The remaining buildings will be cosmetically upgraded in addition to exterior revitalization, all funded by TBC, Endres said.

"We want to address 30 years of neglect, but want to be sensitive to existing business," Barr said. "We don't want to be the business that comes in and displaces existing business."

Town planners had made efforts with the previous property owner to remove junk vehicles and other discarded equipment and trash from the property, Lashbrook explained.

"These efforts, undertaken with public resources, substantially improved the appearance and the reduced the potential for environmental degradation of the site," he said.

However, over time, junk cars and material have re-accumulated there.

WHAT'S NEXT

As part of last week's approval, an agreement between Truckee Brewing Company and the town that includes a code compliance, which must be submitted before building permits are granted.

It's unclear at this point how many businesses are already operating on the parcel at this time, Lashbrook said, as it will be Truckee Brewing Company's responsibility to inventory and identify those businesses as a condition of the approval.

Furrther, the company will be required to create a trail on its parcel for public access to the Truckee River, as the project parcel is located next to it.

Council members envisioned the brewing company as a catalyst for developing an underdeveloped portion of Truckee.

Also, any subsequent phase of development on the site in need of underground infrastructure, i.e. water piping, cable, sewage, power lines, etc., would have to be completed and funded by the brewing company.

"It's a normal requirement," Endres said.

The June 23 approval was by a 4-0 unanimous decision. Truckee Mayor Alicia Barr, wife of Andy Barr and co-owner of FiftyFifty, recused herself from the proceedings.

About the project

The FiftyFifty brewery proposes a number of uses, including barrel storage (being able to produce as many as 35,000 barrels per year), a kitchen, locker room and bathrooms, mobile equipment storage, fermentation tanks, a boiler room, warehouse (including shipping and receiving), cold storage, and a brew house.

Of the overall 18,500 square feet, 8,120 is planned for the brewing facility. Meanwhile, 5,600 square feet is tabbed for warehouse space, 3,600 is eyed for barrel storage, and 900 would be for an outdoor tasting plaza.

A 37-foot-tall grain silo and new parking also is planned. The brewery would mark the business’s second location — its flagship brewpub restaurant is located at the Rock at 11197 Brockway Road.

Click here to read the town staff report that includes full project details.