Future of Truckee open space uncertain
The Town of Truckee must decide if acquiring 71 acres of new open space is worth the loss of 14 acres of open space elsewhere to development.
Airport Flats has been designated in Truckee’s general plan as important open space, but a group of parcels may jeopardize the scenic vista with future development. East West Partners, the developer of Old Greenwood, which abuts Airport Flats’ western border, has offered the town a potential solution. East West Partners has offered to buy a portion of Airport Flats for open space conservation in exchange for more development at Old Greenwood.
East West Partners’ proposal entails the purchase of 71 acres of land for $1,625,000 from three property owners on Airport Flats to be maintained as open space, in exchange for development rights on 14 acres of open space within the Old Greenwood development, according to staff reports.
“We would want to consider that very carefully to make sure we are getting more, or better ” better in public benefit ” open space out of this deal,” said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.
Perry Norris, executive director the Truckee Donner Land Trust, said he thought it was a fair trade for the community.
“The 71 acres would benefit everybody, and the 14 are only enjoyed by property owners in Old Greenwood,” Norris said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
When Old Greenwood began building, the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation sued, resulting in a transfer fee from sold homes that supports open space, said John Eaton, president of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation.
Despite the past dispute, Eaton said the new deal would be beneficial to the community.
“It’s absolutely a fair trade, the site being given up has already been studied for employee housing,” Eaton said. “We are getting something far more beautiful.”
The East West proposal would also include replacing 11 fractional homes with eight single-family homes in an area already slated for development, said Roger Lessman, managing partner of East West Partners.
“At the end of the day if the deal doesn’t work that’s fine with me, but I think it would be disappointing for the community,” Lessman said.
The 71-acre purchase wouldn’t cover the entire Airport Flats area, and some development could still occur, Lashbrook said.
Many Airport Flats parcels are in violation of state and county regulations, and may not be developable, but others, including a 220-acre parcel owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe of Arizona, could still be developed, Lashbrook said.
“There is still a potential for a handful of houses in Airport Flat,” Lashbrook said.
Jack Ehrhardt, Hualapai planning director, said he was concerned this proposal would isolate the tribe’s land and “condemn” its development potential.
Town Planner Duane Hall said the land had been zoned open space since before the Hualapai acquired it, and the East West Partners’ proposal wouldn’t affect the tribe’s legal rights.
“At this time it’s not sovereign tribal land, they are like any other property owner subject to the regulation of the town,” Hall said.
Lashbrook said Airport Flats has been a part of the town’s general plan since 1996.
“It has been identified in the general plan as a scenic vista and wildlife migratory corridor ” it’s critical open space,” Lashbrook said.