McIver Hill development under review | SierraSun.com

McIver Hill development under review

Christina Nelson

With pressure from the state to build more affordable housing, the recently submitted McIver Hill plans seem to be looking better and better.

The plan – modified from the original plan after the town council warned the developer that the project might not pass – still caused a stir among town officials at the Nov. 13 planning commission meeting.

“These density numbers substantially exceed what’s in the general plan guidelines,” said Town Planner Duane Hall.

If the developer, McIver Hill LLC, decides to continue with the plans, a general plan amendment will have to be made, and the planning commission warned that there’s a reasonable chance that the amendment would be turned down.

But with the number of affordable units that will be required of Truckee by the Fair Share Housing Allocation, some town officials felt it may even be beneficial to look at a plan with higher density.

“It’s not inconceivable that the town wouldn’t want more density,” said Planning Commissioner Brita Tryggvi.

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“Pinch me,” said Tom Parilo, a land use planner and consultant for the project.

Although the general plan calls for 50 residential units and 87,000 square feet of residential space on the 74-acre plot, the plan includes 473 multi-family residential units and 8,000 square feet of commercial space.

While the new plan greatly reduces the amount of commercial space on the site, the number of residential units remains high.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the general plan and a lot of concern that this is a major change for the general plan,” Parilo said.

Parilo noted that the area is designated a “special study area,” and that not much was known about the development possibilities of the site when the general plan was written in 1996.

Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook noted that the town will be hard pressed between now and 2008 to come up with the 1,200 state-required affordable units.

“If I was a high-jumper, I would be hard pressed to make that mark,” Lashbrook said.

McIver Hill, if developed, will help the town reach the threshold, the developers argued.

The multi-family units are made up of one-, two- and three-bedroom townhouses, studios and lofts, about half of which would be sold at market rate.

Seventy-two of the units designated as “affordable” would first be offered to Truckee employers, who would then have the opportunity to offer the units to their employees.

Forty-eight units would be sold with deed restrictions.

Another 72 units will be set aside for very low and low-income earners, as based on the 2000 Census and a formula used by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For example, a family of four with a household income of approximately $29,000 would qualify for “very low” income housing.

Parilo said preference will be given to people already living in Truckee or those who have jobs in Truckee.

“I think it’s definitely addressing the needs of our community,” said Truckee resident Nikki Riley.

Riley and a couple other residents expressed some concern about locating the very low- and low-income housing in one portion of the development, clustered on the eastern end.

“I’m cautious in developing a ‘have’ and ‘have not’ development,” Riley said.

Details still need to be worked out regarding the affordability component of the project, and architect Michael Murphy said there needs to be a lot of education regarding the issue.

“Everybody has to have the same facts in front of them,” he said.

In their recommendation to the town council, the planning commission reminded the developer that they are “proceeding at their own risk,” and that there is a chance that a general plan amendment and the plan as proposed may be denied.

The commission also suggested that a wide range of options be examined in an environmental impact report – including density options and visual and road impacts.