Truckee working with state to address CHP office project concerns
May 17, 2016
TRUCKEE, Calif. — The town of Truckee and state of California are attempting to iron out concerns with the proposed California Highway Patrol office relocation project.
Aesthetic impacts are among issues the town has regarding the facility, which would be located on a 5-acre parcel at the very east end of Pioneer Trail Road, a site the town is "generally supportive of," according to town staff.
Its location is about 1.8 miles northeast of the existing Truckee CHP office at 10077 State Route 89, which reportedly does not meet seismic safety requirements and has other operational deficiencies.
This proposal is part of a statewide effort to replace aging or inadequate CHP field offices and other facilities.
Back in November 2015, Truckee Town Council reviewed schematic plans and a draft environmental impact report for the "CHP Truckee Area Office Replacement Project" and submitted its concerns to the state.
Truckee's concerns revolve around site design — specifically a proposal to remove every tree at the new location, and to enclose the site with a 6-foot-tall masonry wall — as well as the state's unwillingness to pay traffic impact fees to mitigate traffic impacts, according to town staff.
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Until recently, the state had not responded to the town's concerns, which forced attorneys to prepare a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit no later than April 21.
Since, however, town staff has worked with the state to execute a "tolling" agreement, which provides an additional 30 days for the two sides to meet, discuss and resolve concerns. The tolling period ends Friday, May 20.
Discussions led to CHP and the California Department of General Services making a commitment to the town to pay traffic impact fees for the project and retain as many trees as possible, Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said at the May 10 town council meeting.
A traffic impact fee figure has not been established, as it will be based on the square footage of the proposed facility, which has yet to be designed, Lashbrook said in a May 12 phone interview.
The state, though, has not agreed to eliminate the proposed masonry wall, an issue the town is adamant on resolving.
"The biggest question at play is why can't we have what Grass Valley has?" Truckee Vice Mayor Morgan Goodwin said at the May 10 meeting, referring to Grass Valley's CHP site, which is enclosed by a fence.
"We don't allow masonry walls because they're not consistent with the character of our community, especially ones that expand the area of a 5-acre parcel," Lashbrook said on May 12. "You might find a masonry wall in a few isolated locations in town, but not one that stands the perimeter of a property on a scenic corridor."
Consequently, at the May 10 meeting, town council unanimously voted to request an additional 30-day tolling agreement — rather than file litigation — to allow more time to get an acceptable commitment from the state.
Notably, if the current tolling period lapsed without action, Truckee would give up its ability to challenge the state's EIR.
Lashbrook said the state is currently evaluating the town's request to extend the tolling period. If the state refuses to budge on its proposed masonry wall, town staff's direction is to file litigation.
Lashbrook, however, is confident it won't come to that.
"I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "There's a variety of ways to work this out — as long as people are interested in doing so."
If Truckee and the CHP agree to a solution, the state will move forward with building design, a process the town will be actively engaged in.
The design process, Lashbrook said, wouldn't start for another six months following an agreement.