‘Old Greenwod’ battle may go to court
The Town Council’s stamp of approval may not be the final one for East West Partners’ Old Greenwood Planned Development after all. It turns out the resort may still need at least one more person to sign off on it – a judge.
The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation announced this week that they intend to challenge the adequacy of the town’s general plan and it’s approval of the resort development in court.
One of MAPF’s attorney, Brian Johnson, said a suit has yet to be formally filed, but he expects to do so “over the next couple of weeks.”
Johnson is an associate with Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger LLP, a San Francisco firm specializing in land use and environmental cases that is representing MAPF.
According to Johnson and MAPF spokeswoman and planning consultant Terrell Watt, the framework of the suit will be the same issues raised in the comment letters submitted to the town council prior to their June 20 meeting, when the development was approved.
Those issues fall primarily into three areas: inconsistencies between the approved project and policies in Truckee’s General Plan, inadequacies of the general plan itself and violations of the California Environmental Quality Act.
The resort’s approval would thus require amendments to the general plan and a new environmental impact report, and should therefore wait until the general plan’s update process begins next month, the group contended.
East West’s Roger Lessman did, however, defend the project, the general plan and the relation of the two.
“Back in 1995, the general plan was an attempt by the people of Truckee to control their own destiny,” he said. “We rigorously tried to keep our project within the sideboards of that plan. But obviously, some people have a different opinion.”
But Lessman did add that until an actual suit was filed, “none of us really know what the issues are.”
The Old Greenwood parcel is designated in the general plan as Open Space Recreational (OSR), zoning designed to protect wildlife corridors and open space. Any development on an OSR parcel is required to have 90 percent open space.
Golf courses can, however, be considered open space under the general plan and were for this development.
East West still sought and received a reduction in the OSR open space requirement to slightly more than 80 percent, but offered to donate up to 260 acres of the project north of Interstate 80 to the town or the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
Watt hit on the increased development area as an example of where the development exceeds, and is inconsistent with, the maximum site coverage limit of 10 percent.
And that is with the golf course being counted as part of the open space, when it should have been considered as an “improved land use” and counted as developed area, she said.
“Even without the golf course, the developed coverage area is almost double what the general plan allows. With the golf course, it’s more than triple [what the plan allows].”
Watt said MAPF also believes the town needs to more clearly define standards for non-residential (commercial) uses in OSR land before approving project with such a component.
“There are no standards for the non-residential component. They approved approximately 400,000 square feet of commercial space. They could just as well have approved a million feet,” she said. “With that much commercial space out there, MAPF felt they had to take some sort of action.”
MAPF also contends that the environmental impact report failed to address or adequately mitigate some of the impacts of the development.
The Truckee Town Council unanimously approved the Old Greenwood resort on June 20. That started a 30-day period in which any challenges to Old Greenwood’s environmental impact report or the project approval itself must be brought forward.
Those looking to contest a development’s approval can, in addition to filing suit, force a referendum on the matter if they can gather the signatures of10 percent of registered voters in the town limits within the 30 days.
The development was approved 3-1 by the planning commission on May 29, but with some changes regarding the timing and phasing of construction and the related impact fees to be paid by East West.
The Town of Truckee Planning Department was also recommending the approval of Old Greenwood.
Old Greenwood is the largest project, both in the number of units and in the physical size, to come before the town since incorporation in 1994.
Access into Old Greenwood will be via the Interstate 80-Prosser Village off ramp.
Old Greenwood, as approved by the town, will be a mixed-use resort development on 870 acres with a residential subdivision for 104 single-family lots and 20 townhouse units.
The commercial portion with include 154 timeshare, or fractional ownership units, an 18-hole private golf course, a 50,000-square foot lodge (with 20 lodging units), a 17,000-square foot fitness center.
It sits on the site of the previously approved Featherstone resort.
Watt said MAPF is challenging Old Greenwood because it includes a golf course and three times more development than the Featherstone resort.
Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook had no comment on the possible suit, saying only “It is [MAPF’s] legal right to do so … and we will deal with the issues as they come forward.”
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