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Initiative debate heats up

SHERRY MAYS

On Nov. 4, Truckee voters will make a statement – whether or not they believe in the public general plan process.

Proponents and opponents of the Measure M initiative have made their opinions clear in recent advertisements, direct-mail publications and public comment sections of meetings, but still, the initiative boils down to one thing – amending land use designations under Truckee’s general plan.

Measure M is intended to change the land use on Planned Community 2, where a conceptual project that has not reached drafting tables or the planning commission, has reached deep into the reserve of residents’ personal values, strengthening some and changing others.

On Oct. 16, PC-2’s proponents and opponents fielded public questions at the Truckee Republican Women, Federated monthly meeting as part of the debate circuit making its way through Truckee.

The Community Alliance for a Responsible Environment and Economy for Truckee representatives included CARE President Ron Hemig and Sam Lemon. The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation was represented by MAPF President Stefanie Olivieri and Janna Caughron; and the Hopkins Family Trust was represented by Union Bank’s Brian Mullins and Sylvester Engineering’s Dale Creighton.

It was only two days previous the groups had met to discuss Measure M on Channel 6’s Truckee Talks and less than one week before this week’s debate at the chamber of commerce sponsored luncheon.

CARE opened the discussion at the meeting with Hemig’s questions – Is it time to curtail PC-2 now? Are you ready to make a decision that’s irreversible? Why have the community leaders taken a stand against Measure M?

“If you don’t know, don’t vote yes on Measure M,” he said.

Lemon followed with a summary of an issue that people believe is associated with the passage of Measure M -a third road out of Tahoe Donner.

“The road will rise or fall with M,” he said. “Why don’t we put commercial where the roads can handle it – at the intersection of Highways 89 and 80.”

Caughron said the passage of the initiative is critical to maintaining the quality of life Truckee residents enjoy now. She said Measure M reaffirmed open space in the general plan while downsizing commercial square footage.

She asked if members of the audience had traveled Interstate 80 within the last 20 years and, more specifically, within the last year. If so, had they liked the development in Sacramento, Foresthill and Roseville?

“Do we want to look like them?” she asked. “We want to keep Truckee nice for our guests and prevent the irreversible mistakes of freeway sprawl.”

MAPF’s concerns of commercial sprawl rest with the fact that the Truckee’s general plan allows 175,000 square feet of commercial development on the 789-acre site.

Olivieri said it would be difficult to hide 175,000 square feet of commercial and the associated parking lots close to Interstate 80.

“We better zone commercial where we want it, because that’s where we’ll get it,” she said.

Mullins said that development would be approached in phases, with commercial needs being addressed as houses were built. Commercial growth would occur with the increase in residential units.

Both sides, not including the Hopkins Family Trust, battled the position of commercial square footage and its maximum and potential at the site, whether PC-2 represented sprawl or infill and whether other possible sites could be the center of commercial growth. These sites included the PC-1 property near Coldstream, PC-3 in Martis or the Old Mill Site considered within the downtown core.

During public questions, MAPF, CARE and the Hopkins Family representatives were allowed to field questions and rebut the opposition’s comments.

A Tahoe City woman asked who much of the initiative rested with businesses that don’t want more commercial?

“This isn’t a business-only interest group,” Olivieri responded. “We want growth, but we want it done correctly.”

A following question asked about urban and commercial sprawl.

Lemon said, “PC-2 isn’t sprawl because it is surrounded by developments on all sides.”

Olivieri’s response to Lemon’s comment focused on “recycling the property at PC-1 near Coldstream.

A Truckee resident asked whether MAPF would support the idea of commercial development outside the town limits with Truckee financially supporting the impacts on the infrastructure.

“Yes,” Olivieri said.

When Mullins was questioned about potential impacts on the quality of water in the area of PC-2, he said there hadn’t been an official environmental impact report conducted yet at the site.

“Development will be good in this area because sewer and water lines will need to be installed and this may alleviate some of the problems residents are already having with their septic systems near Prosser.”

In an unplanned follow-up to the Truckee Talks roundtable discussions, Measure M proponents and opponents reiterated their main concerns surrounding the initiative at the luncheon.

MAPF continued about the possibility of PC-2 hindering other commercial development in the downtown core and other planned communities, CARE stressed the trust residents should have in Truckee’s Town Council and the important public involvement in planning issues and Mullins repeated the Hopkins Family mission to bring balanced development to Truckee and with it job opportunities.


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