Martis Valley Plan calls for four lanes on Hwy. 267 | SierraSun.com

Martis Valley Plan calls for four lanes on Hwy. 267

The preliminary draft of the Martis Valley Community Plan recommends the widening of the valley’s major roads to four lanes and the addition of two stoplights.

The draft, released last week, calls for the expansion of Highway 267 to four lanes, from Interstate 80 to Northstar Drive. Such expansion would require an additional bypass bridge next to the one currently under construction.

The plan also calls for the widening of Schaffer Mill Road to four lanes, and adding stoplights at the intersection of Highway 267 and Northstar Drive and at Schaffer Mill Road and Highway 267.

The plan was introduced by the Placer County Planning Department Monday night at the first meeting in over three months of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Martis Valley Community Plan. More than 50 people braved near-blizzard conditions to attend the meeting.

There, Placer County Planning Director Fred Yeager, Senior Planner Bill Combs and Associate Engineer Richard Moorehead went over parts of the 135-page draft plan.

The Martis Valley Community Plan is a revision of the 1975 Martis Valley General Plan.

According to the Placer County Planning Department, it seeks to guide development and address “new environmental and land issues.”

“[The plan] is Placer County’s constitution for development in the Martis Valley,” Yeager said Monday night.

But the proposed major road expansions had environmental groups and developers alike frowning and mumbling toward those sitting nearby.

Ironically, it is the amount of growth being proposed by developers that is driving the need for the expansion of existing roads.

“The land use is what drives these [expansions],” Moorehead said afterward, referring to proposed developments that, if approved, could add up to 2,000 units to the valley over the next few years.

Of the Schaffer Mill Road proposal, Moorehead said representatives of the Lahontan community have expressed concern over the expanded road through or near the exclusive community.

“[Lahontan] would like to see it reduced to two lanes,” Moorehead said afterward.

Currently, Schaffer Mill Road dead ends just past the gatehouse into Lahontan.

But Lahontan has plans to expand, likely requiring further extension of the road. That expansion could bring it to within less than a mile from Big Springs Road in Northstar.

Tim Silva, general manager of Northstar, said such a connection would make sense for public transportation and emergency use only.

“There are neighborhoods that are probably not well served by [making it a public thoroughfare],” he said.

But Moorehead said Placer County would push for public access all the way to Northstar.

“From our standpoint, [that connection] makes sense,” Moorehead said afterward.

The plan also calls for any developments in which an increased density of homes has been allowed to allot 10 percent of the units for affordable housing.

But with most of the resort developments proposing larger lots for vacation homes, Yeager said the criteria would apply to “very few” of the proposed developments.

Also on Monday, Combs briefly went over the status of proposed projects in the Martis Valley that are being reviewed by the Placer County Planning department. They include Eaglewood (470 units and a golf course), Hopkins Ranch (87 homes and a golf course), Martis Creek Estates (12 homes on 10-acre lots) and Martis Ranch (a ski resort and up to 1,300 homes proposed by Sierra Pacific).

Northstar also has plans, in various stages of review, for employee housing dormitories, expansion of the village (including 200 residential units), a new parking lot and a new restaurant.

Initial reaction to the draft plan was mixed.

“The plan is a good vision for the valley,” Silva said. “It will focus a good deal of development in existing areas.”

Silva also noted that the transportation improvements are just recommendations.

“The plan is still a work in progress, and I don’t think anybody believes the recommendations are final. I wouldn’t overreact,” he said.

But environmental groups said the proposed road expansions are merely symptoms of the 5,000 new dwelling units the plan would allow.

“There is too much development allowed in this plan,” said Tom Mooers, executive director of Sierra Watch. “This is a regurgitation of the 1975 plan … and the ’75 plan was an irresponsible plan.”

Currently the citizens’ committee includes representatives from the Truckee Fire Protection District, Truckee Sanitation District, and the developments or resorts of Lahontan, Northstar, Waddle Ranch and Siller Ranch.

Ron Parr, representing Lahontan, has two seats on the committee. He also represents Siller Ranch.

The Citizens’ Advisory Committee will make advisory recommendations on the plan to the Placer County Planning Commission. That recommendation may come as early as their next meeting on Feb. 25.

The impacts of the plan will be assessed in an environmental impact report due out in March.

Placer County is accepting written comments on the draft plan until the next Citizens Advisory meeting on Feb. 25.

“But the sooner we receive the comments, the better,” cautioned Yeager.

Copies of the preliminary draft are available through the Placer County Planning Department at (530) 889-7470 and online at http://www.placer.ca. gov/planning/planning-docs.htm