My Turn: Canyon Springs not a good vision for eastern Truckee

Nikki Riley
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Canyon Springs project will soon be released for public review and comment. This report assesses the potential impacts the proposed project of 204 units will create if allowed to move forward and makes an attempt to address how these impacts can be mitigated and#8212; or in other words, made not so bad.

This is a perfect time to assess where our efforts should be directed regarding new development within our town limits. One bad development decision could mean a future of sprawl that extends from Truckee to Floriston and beyond.

At a time when sales of existing homes and home sites have slowed down in much of Truckee and most residential construction is taking place at Martis Camp, it makes no sense to disrupt the environment with new roads and infrastructure that will sit idle for years to come.

I believe we have a duty to fill the holes and homes we have already made, focus on density in the core of our community and avoid developing on the periphery, which contributes to sprawl. The excess of residential lots and empty homes has only served to lower the property values in our community.

Although the economic downturn has been a huge hardship on many of us, at the very least it gives us the opportunity to reflect on how we want our community to move forward in the next 5-15 years.

From 2003 to 2007, I served as a Truckee Planning Commissioner and participated in the review of many development proposals as well as the 2025 General Plan Update. I supported many developments and took issue with others. My background in architecture and land use planning played a key role in how I approached the review of each development brought before this town.

Unfortunately during the General Plan Update, the community was not allowed to weigh in on the appropriateness of Canyon Springand#8217;s land use zoning. To my knowledge, the last time the public had a say in how many homes this parcel should bear was during the townand#8217;s incorporation.

A lot has changed since the early 1990s. In fact, during the 1970s when this parcel was under Nevada Countyand#8217;s jurisdiction, the zoning allowed for less than 100 homes. It is my understanding that the only development application ever approved for this parcel occurred in 1991 and proposed 87 lots. Every previous development proposal in excess of 87 lots has been denied.

I have lived in Glenshire for the last nine years and know the Canyon Springs parcel very well. This project proposes to interrupt established wildlife corridors, disturb a number of watersheds with bridges, cover a significant amount of land with impervious surfaces, add unnecessary traffic to our overburdened streets and require the retrofit of the Glenshire Drive/Donner Pass Road intersection to move forward.

Although the proposed home sites are clustered, they sprawl across the 285 acres. As a LEED-accredited professional, I have a hard time finding any benefits, environmental or otherwise, that this project will provide.

A multi-year, multi-phased development on the eastern edge of town, paving its way across a vibrant habitat, is not in line with the US Green Building Council principles, Smart Growth principles or good land use planning in general. I support true infill development in Truckeeand#8217;s core, not sprawl at the eastern boundary of our town.

Now is not the time to play the and#8220;itand#8217;s good for the economyand#8221; card. This is not about the economy. This is about providing entitlements to over-develop a landscape that would benefit few and impact many.

Now is the time to play the and#8220;Community Visionand#8221; card. We must provide the town decision-makers with our vision for the future. A vision born from the place we live today and will continue to live in for years to come, a place that values undeveloped open space, recreation, a healthy wildlife habitat and a quality of life that is not eroded by short-sighted decision-making. Please support a well-planned vision for eastern Truckee.

Nikki Riley is a Truckee resident and current board member of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation. She also is the Truckee representative on the Nevada County First 5 Commission.

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