New Northwoods subdivision OK’d | SierraSun.com

New Northwoods subdivision OK’d

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

Truckee’s Tahoe Donner subdivision – the town’s largest and one of the biggest in the United States – is about to get a little bigger.

The Truckee Planning Commission approved the Donner Crest Subdivision, a development proposing 82 single-family lots off Northwoods Boulevard and south of Tahoe Donner, at its Thursday meeting. Donner Crest is adjacent to Tahoe Donner but isn’t part of the subdivision’s homeowner’s association.

The original application for the project came before the commission in November 2003 but was withdrawn by the applicant when the commission questioned if the 92 homes in the proposal were overloading the 32-acre site.

Mass grading associated with the home building was also a concern.

The project approved by the commission addressed these problems by reducing the number of lots from 92 to 82 and selling the lots to individual owners to build custom homes. Grading and tree removal with the new proposal were greatly reduced.

However, the commission put some conditions on the project in return for approval of Donner Crest’s minimum 8,000-square-foot lots, a concession from the town standards that require 10,000-square-foot lots as a minimum. They asked for a small park to be created in the open space of the development, required that the homeowner’s association take on fire suppression practices in the open-space area, and added architectural and design standards so houses of similar design and shape not be built side-by-side.

A 34 percent lot coverage limit was also added, restricting the size of homes on the smaller lots. At a 34 percent coverage standard, a 9,000-square-foot lot could hold 3,060 square feet of coverage, which includes the driveway and garage.

Commissioner Nikki Riley lobbied strongly that 10 to 20 percent of the lots be offered affordably to local first-time home buyers making 120 percent or less of the median income, but the other commissioner found that requirement infeasible.

“I feel the greatest need of our community is to be housing local people,” Riley said. “This is what I care about.”

Other commissioners liked the idea, but thought that a town policy should be in place to base the affordable requirement on.

Commissioner Robie Litchfield outlined a more complex tree screening requirement that would shield the development from passing cars on Northwoods Boulevard. The screening would require 200, six-foot trees to be planted along Northwoods and the northern portion of the development abutting Tahoe Donner.

The commission approved the development, voting four to one. Riley, who had pushed for the affordable lots requirement, did not vote in favor of approval.

Parcel subdivision rejected

The commission rejected a request to subdivide a 1-acre lot into two roughly half-acre lots on Pinnacle Loop in Tahoe Donner.

The single lot was formed by a merger of the two parcels in 1997, but problems with a Truckee Donner Public Utility District easement prevented the owners from building in the middle of the merged site as they had planned.

The owners built on the upper lot but had to encroach on the snow removal easement to design their home as they wanted. In return for using part of the easement, the owners agreed to let the town use the lower lot for snow storage off of both lots’ frontages.

The owners wanted to revert to the previous lot division, but the commission decided that subdividing the merged lot would have an adverse effect on snow removal and that any building on the site would have to be on 30-degree slopes or greater. They agreed unanimously to reject the proposal.