Truckee’s FiftyFifty brewery project heading to town council | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s FiftyFifty brewery project heading to town council

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Amid logistical challenges and conflict of interest concerns, the Truckee Planning Commission recently approved a construction application for a new craft beer brewery.

FiftyFifty Brewing Company is proposing an 18,500-square-foot brewing facility on a 7.8-acre parcel between 10925 and 10855 West River Street, adjacent to the Truckee River.

The application to build the brewery, which would become the second facility under management of the award-winning Truckee-based FiftyFifty, is owned by Alicia Barr, who serves as mayor this year on Truckee Town Council, and her husband, Andy.

Andy Barr said he and Alicia have been proactive about removing doubt the couple has used insider influence to gain favor with the planning commission, which OK'd the application on May 19.

"We have been overly protective about it, almost to the point that Alicia has missed out on the business process of it," Barr said. "It is an integral part of the process that Alicia has missed out on."

He added: "I don't think there has been anyone who has stood up and called foul on anything as of yet. But we have heard comments on how we do it and those who say, 'boy it must be easy with Alicia on the town council.'"

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Considering that, Alicia will recuse herself from the process, said John McLaughlin, community development director with the town of Truckee.

"She will have to leave the room during this council discussion," McLaughlin said.

When reached via email for this story, Alicia Barr reiterated what McLaughlin said: "Because of my (role) with the Town, I am staying out of the application and approval process."

NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW?

During the application's approval process, the planning commission determined the project to be exempt from the portion of the California Environmental Quality Act that states, "It can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment."

Therefore, no CEQA review is required.

"Just because a project is exempt from a review, doesn't mean the community isn't looking at the environmental impacts," McLaughlin said. "We are looking at those impacts and how they impact the environment, but it doesn't technically need to go before CEQA."

Based on the desired location, project leaders will also need to address zoning issues, McLaughlin said.

Currently, planners propose construction on a parcel split between downtown mixed-use and downtown high-density residential, according to a town staff report.

In order to resolve the issue, planners need to acquire a development amendment to modify the zoning of both parcels, McLaughlin said.

"This must be approved by the town council, the ultimate decision-maker," he said.

The project is scheduled to go before town council for approval at its 6 p.m. June 23 meeting at Truckee Town Hall.

REVITALIZING AN AREA IN NEED

The site faces other challenges, including "legal-non-conforming uses, a long history of illegal, unpermitted uses and setback constraints defined by the Truckee River floodplain location," according to the staff report.

However, with regard to the issue of the site's proximity to the floodplain, "We've looked at the distances away from the river," McLaughlin said, "and it's outside the floodplain."

The facility is expected to take up about an acre of the 7.8 acres allocated for the project, Andy Barr said.

While the project should help the town by infusing local and tourist dollars into the economy, Barr said he believes residents would agree the west river corridor could benefit from planned revitalization and cleanup efforts.

"This project is about two things: It's a place to grow business in town," Barr said. "It's also a tool to get access to the area to do added improvements to the specific area."

The Barrs have committed to spending their own money to do some of the research to analyze the state of the Truckee River, Barr said.

"We have committed to doing extra cleanup in line with what the town wants for road frontage cleanup," Barr said. "We know the river could use some work, some river drainage work."

About the project

The 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.

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