Joerger Ranch plans raise big questions | SierraSun.com

Joerger Ranch plans raise big questions

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Architect rendering of Joerger Ranch Mercantile and Raley's by Nadel Architects Inc.
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A public review of Truckee’s Joerger Ranch development Thursday revealed both optimism and concerns for the planned community near Martis Valley.

A joint Truckee Town Council and Planning Commission meeting restarted the public review process for Planned Community Three, a potential 70-acre development near Truckee Tahoe Airport. Commissioners, council members and the public made comments, while members of the development team responded.

Participants expressed optimism about the project’s potential as a southern gateway to Truckee, as the development with the most potential to serve locals, and as a legacy to one of Truckee’s pioneer families, the Joerger family.

At the same time, they also voiced concerns about environmental issues, the project’s layout, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and the proposed Raley’s market area.

While the zoning of the project is limited by its proximity to the airport, many who attended the town hall hearing wanted to see changes to the density and distribution of the development.

“The fundamental issue I have is the compartmentalization,” said council member Josh Susman. “I think this project has a long way to go.”

Susman’s comments referred to the different areas of the project separated by Highway 267, Brockway Road and Soaring Way that have concentrated areas of residential, commercial and light industrial segregated from other uses rather than mixed.

Young said that a certain level of concentration is necessary for businesses in the commercial area, and a certain number of apartment units is necessary for the project’s viability in the local economy.

“Our vision is really different than downtown, we need to emphasize this is not a resort-oriented real-estate project,” Young said. “It’s being designed by locals, for locals.”

Key environmental concerns discussed at the meeting included the use of green building practices and the protection of wetlands.

Executive Director Greg Jones of the Sierra Green Building Association said he would like to see more eco-friendly techniques incorporated into the project, especially those that take advantage of solar energy. He suggested photovoltaics and passive solar usage, saying the project should take advantage of the 300-plus days of sunshine Truckee receives a year.

Larry Young, principal architect with Ward Young and speaker at the meeting for the development team, said green building and the use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards are part of the development’s plan.

Leigh Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Truckee Trails Foundation, said he was pleased with the planned bike paths, but would like to see the development take responsibility for trails connecting to Airport Road along Highway 267, which would link Truckee to a proposed network of paved trails connecting to Lake Tahoe.

“I would also like to see multiple connections to the Legacy Trail,” Fitzpatrick said.

Young said the current plans include links to the Legacy Trail along Joerger Drive and Reynolds Way, but disputed putting sole responsibility of off-site trails along Highway 267 on the project.