Mountain grading season coming to a close
October 9, 2007
Living in snow country comes with some restrictions, and for construction that means the end of the annual grading season.
In both the Tahoe Basin and in Truckee, development has a window from May 1 to Oct. 15 to move earth, with few exceptions.
Some years that means a big end-of-season rush to pour concrete foundations and allowing construction to continue.
But this year, fewer projects are under the gun with the deadline looming on Monday.
“There are a few projects rushing, but not most; it’s been slower this year,” said Jaime LaChance, an assistant planner with the Town of Truckee. “A lot of projects were approved this year that didn’t go to construction this season, that are waiting until next season.”
On Highway 89 north the Frishman Hollow affordable housing project is moving quickly, but with roads paved and many foundations poured, LaChance said contractors will start installing prefab units on Thursday.
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Likewise, Gray’s Crossing and the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District Community Center, also in the Highway 89 north area, are doing grading and ground work.
“The rec center is being graded as we speak, trying to get in as much as they can do,” said Truckee Associate Planner Jenna Endres. “But on the 15th they will install BMP’s (best management practices, used to prevent erosion) and button up the site and wait for spring.”
The reason for a grading season in the Tahoe-Truckee region is to prevent erosion and preserve water quality in Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River watershed.
“The season is for any earth moving, grading or excavation that could affect water quality,” said Julie Regan, chief of communications for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “The season is designed for moving earth while the soil is the most stable.
Even with weather changes from year to year, the May 1 and Oct. 15 dates have proven fairly reliable, chosen after examining historic weather data, she said.
While normally in the basin the only exceptions are for public benefit, this year those with residences harmed by the Washoe and Angora fires will be given a chance to keep building after the fast-approaching deadline, Regan said.
“If the weather holds past October 15 some waivers or exemptions for public health and safety projects are given. Like last year, there was an exemption in Incline Village for a wastewater effluent pipeline,” Regan said. “This year on the South Shore and West Shore we are working with homeowners that have hardship from the fires.”
So far, the bistate planning agency has received just five requests for extensions in the Tahoe basin, but a rush for more is expected before the Oct. 15 deadline arrives on Monday, Regan said.