UPDATE: Court rules in favor of construction of Raley’s Grocery store
Construction on a new Raley’s grocery store is expected to begin in May after a pending lawsuit against the project ruled in the developer’s favor.
A Nevada County judge in January ruled in favor of the Town of Truckee and the developers planning to construct the grocery store, JMA Ventures, denying claims that the project would have an adverse effect on the Truckee community.
“When the lawsuit was filed most legal experts said there was no merit to these arguments at all,” said Art Chapman, founder and chairman of JMA Ventures. “We always believed it was a delay tactic.”
Stefanie Olivieri, one of the petitioners on the lawsuit, said she is working on another proposal to discuss with JMA Ventures to mitigate problems with the project.
“There are still some issues with the project and we’d like to discuss that with the developer,” said Olivieri. “Hopefully we can collaborate on it, making it a better project for the community.”
Olivieri also said there is still a chance to appeal the judge’s decision, if an agreement isn’t reached.
After the Truckee Town Council made the decision to approve construction of the grocery store at Soaring Ranch, Olivieri, owner of Cobona’s, and Protect CEQA, an organization established to uphold California’s Environmental Quality Act, filed the lawsuit in May against the Town of Truckee over the approval.
According to court documents, their arguments included a lack of affordable housing included in the project and a need for a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Report (See this story at SierraSun.com to read the court’s ruling).
JUDGE: NO NEED FOR NEW EIR
The project falls under the umbrella of the Joerger Ranch Specific Plan which the town certified an Environmental Impact Review for in 2015. The court sided with the town, which concluded there were not enough substantial changes in the project between 2015 and the town’s approval of the project in 2018 to warrant major revisions to the original EIR.
While the ruling concluded that the housing units included in the project were consistent with requirements in the town’s development code, Olivieri said she is concerned that there will be no housing for the employees of the store as the units will not be built until after the Raley’s project is completed.
According to the project plan, Phase 1 would include the construction of a 40,000 square-foot Raley’s with an attached 12,000 square-foot commercial building and a separate 9,250 square-foot commercial building across the parking lot. Phases 2 and 3 would include a 9,000 square-foot commercial building, three additional 8,000 square-foot commercial buildings and 150 multi-family apartment units.
According to Chapman, the project has reduced commercial space laid out in the original application by 85,000 square feet and replaced that space with residential units, which will include on-site childcare and a music plaza.
He added that Truckee residents will have the first opportunity to rent those units.
“It will have a Truckee-first focus,” he said. “As local business people ourselves we have difficulty hiring employees,” said Chapman.
LOTS OF ‘LOCAL SUPPORT’
Originally, Truckee was reviewing proposals for three new grocery stores, Raley’s, Grocery Outlet and a Nugget Markets that backed out of the Railyard development project following the approval of the Raley’s project.
In November, Truckee Town Council members unanimously approved the construction of a Grocery Outlet on Donner Pass Road, denying an appeal filed against the Planning Commission’s approval of the 16,147-square-foot market.
Chapman said in the past he has received pictures of crowded checkout lines at existing grocery stores from local residents with complaints of the traffic.
“I have never been involved with a project that had more local support from people who live here than this project,” Chapman said.
While the new store will compete with a Safeway, Save Mart and the new Grocery Outlet on the way, Chapman said the competition is healthy for the economy.
“It forces businesses to be more competitive,” he said.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.