Martis deadline nearing
Community members and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Monday night continued questioning the Martis Valley Community Plan and the draft environmental impact report that was released in June.
The final EIR will be available after the public comment period ends Aug. 19. Although the public comment period will officially end, people can make comments on the proposed plan and the EIR up until the Board of Supervisors either accepts or rejects the plan. Comments made after Aug. 19 will not be addressed in the final EIR.
The committee and the Placer County Planning Department will meet once more, on Aug. 19, to discuss the issues raised by citizens and advocacy groups at that time. The committee will then make a recommendation to the planning department staff, which will in turn make a recommendation to the planning commission.
The advisory committee acts as a representative of service agencies and property owners in the plan area. The 12-member committee, which has been criticized for the disproportionate number of planners and service agency representatives, can only make recommendations to the Placer County staff.
But the advisory committee does not have to be in agreement on the plan, and each member of the advisory committee can make separate recommendations to the staff.
Monday night, a few committee members felt that waiting until the 19th was too long – others felt time was still needed to address controversies that may surface.
“I’m not sure we’ve got all the issues,” said Bradley Stapley, who represents the Truckee Sanitary District. “I think there might be issues hiding out there.”
Apart from the environment and traffic concerns raised at Monday’s meeting, residents wrestled with the idea of having another 9,220 residential units along with an additional 653,000 square feet of commercial space in Martis Valley.
And while some critiqued different parts of the EIR and the plan itself, all agreed that the remedy was the same – lower the number of homes allowed by the Martis Valley Community Plan.
Still, the planning board noted that 85 percent of the plan area would be classified as open space, 5 percent of which would be occupied by private golf courses.
Many community members expressed concern that classifying a golf course as open space is misleading and asked the board to clarify the distinctions between different types of open space.
Placer County Planning Director Fred Yeager said that according to state law, a golf course and other recreational areas are considered open space, but that later references would clarify what the open space would be used for.
“It’s clear from the comments people have different views of what open space is,” he said.
Yeager also sought to dispel myths and misconceptions about the rate of growth, the amount of commercial space, and how that commercial space would affect downtown Truckee if the plan were to be adopted.
Others were skeptical that the plan reflects the best interests of area residents and the environment.
“I have some serious concerns about the current plans,” said Lynne Larson, the committee member who represents Ponderosa Palisades. “I am not naive enough to think we can stop development, but I am concerned that it will turn our area into a Vail or a Bay Area.”
David Kean, the North Shore Conservation Coordinator for the Sierra Club pointed out 19 instances within the four proposed plans he says would cause a “significant and unavoidable” impact. The category is only assigned to parts of the plan that would have the most impact on the environment.
“There is a plan out there that you can develop that avoids these significant and unavoidable impacts. Why haven’t we done that?” Kean asked.
“You can say the plan isn’t urban in nature, but the impact is very urban in nature.”
Paul Vatista of the North Shore Community Coalition in Tahoe City pointed out that there are no members on the advisory committee from King’s Beach or North Shore, an area that would be impacted by the proposed developments.
The current draft of the Martis Valley Community Plan proposes a cap of 9,220 dwelling units in the valley at buildout. Although this is a 22 percent reduction from what was permitted under the 1975 plan, the new plan would allow for about 6,800 more units at buildout than what has already been approved for the valley.
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