Old Greenwood gets Town Council endorsement
The future is now, and it’s not just about skiing anymore.
With a 5-0 vote last Thursday, the Truckee Town Council put the final stamp of approval on East West Partners’ Old Greenwood resort. The resort will be one of the cornerstones of the Colorado-based developers’ package of high-end amenities dubbed Tahoe Mountain Resorts.
East West currently owns, leases or partners with Northstar-at-Tahoe, the Coyote Moon Golf Course in Tahoe Donner and the Wild Goose restaurant (Formerly Sunsets at the Lake) in Tahoe Vista. And now, it can add Old Greenwood to the brochure.
Together, East West hopes the package will transform the Truckee-Tahoe area into a year-round destination resort area.
At issue on Thursday was the approval of the first of two resort developments proposed by East West.
The council heard presentations on Old Greenwood by town planners and the East West project team. They also listened to the concerns of a handful of citizens and the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation before deliberating on four areas of the project, including housing, open space, consistency with the general plan and the adequacy of the environmental impact report.
At the onset, Town Planner Duane Hall advised the council to take a big picture approach and avoid getting bogged down in the details of seven land use permits that were incorporated into two ordinances and two resolutions.
“It’s a complex project. There are a lot of land use permits that you have to consider and a development agreement,” Hall advised. “I recommend you look at the big picture, and ask yourself ‘Is this project consistent with the general plan and [is it] a project you can support?'”
The parcel is designated in the general plan as Open Space Recreational (OSR), zoning designed to protect wildlife corridors and open space. Any development on the 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.
“At this time, the general plan does in fact allow the use of golf courses as open space,” Councilman Josh Susman said afterward. “That may change with the update of the general plan, but who would’ve thought back in ’96 that we would have more golf courses than ski resorts?”
Even with the golf course classified as open space, East West was still seeking a reduction in the OSR requirement to slightly more than 80 percent. In exchange, 260 acres of the project north of Interstate 80 will be donated to the Truckee Donner Land Trust as permanent open space.
There will also be approximately five miles of public trails through the property.
In order to secure a development agreement with the town, East West also had to offer something “above and beyond” what is merely required by the development code, Hall said.
The agreement is like a contract in that it locks into place the development rights, regardless of any subsequent action taken by the town
What the community got for the council’s signing off on the agreement was a home course for the Tahoe Truckee High School golf team, some public access to the course and use for fund-raising events, one day every year in June by a local non-profit.
The resort will also include a 28-unit employee housing complex for the 60 to 90 full-time employees that the project will generate.
The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation was by far the most vocal of the opposition, submitting a 16-page document that asserted the project was inconsistent with the general plan. The group also claimed that the environmental impact report failed to address or adequately mitigate some of the impacts of the project.
“We aren’t here tonight to tell you that you can’t approve this project. We are just here to say you can’t approve it tonight without amending the general plan,” said Stefanie Olivieri, president of MAPF. “The proposed project is clearly inconsistent with the OSR requirement in the general plan.”
Any amendments to the general plan would require a new environmental impact report and should wait until the plan’s update (due to begin next month), Olivieri said.
Those contentions did, however, receive a pointed rebuttal by Whitman Manley, an East West attorney who specializes in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
Manley said MAPF’s objections were nothing more than unsubstantiated “attacks.”
“That’s all they are. Let’s call a spade a spade,” Manley told the council. “These letters are not intended to bring forward any new information. They are intended to make you nervous.”
In the end, the council agreed with the planning department, the planning commission and Manley that the project was in line with general plan policies and its environmental review was adequate.
“At the end of the day, I felt the impacts were adequately mitigated and the community benefits will be realized,” Councilman Susman said. “I was disappointed it didn’t meet the [90 percent] open space requirement, but the merits of the project still deserved a yes vote.”
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.
It will be a will be a mixed-use resort development on 870 acres (a lot line adjustment shifted 50 acres over to East West’s other property, the proposed 600- acre Gray’s Crossing resort) 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 golf course, a 50,000-square foot lodge (with 20 lodging units) and a 17,000-square foot fitness center.
Access into Old Greenwood will be via Old Airport Road, approximately 300 feet east of the Interstate 80-Prosser Village off ramp.
It sits on the site of the previoulsy approved Featherstone resort, and most agreed Old Greenwood will be a better resort, both for those who buy into it and the public.
The affordable housing, the economic benefits it will generate from Transit Occupancy Taxes, the open space and trails were “leaps beyond what we had with the previous developer,” Susman said.
Mayor Ron Florian said Old Greenwood also includes better clustering of the homes and changed a gated community to one with a public “welcome center.”
“Featherstone was a good project, but Old Greenwood took it to another level,” Florian said afterward.
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 its approval.
In addition to East West’s legal team, planners, architects and even foresters at Thursday’s meeting, Old Greenwood enjoyed the support of several groups.
The California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners (CABPRO), the Truckee Trails Foundation and a regional workforce-housing group all spoke in support of the project.
Perry Norris of the land trust said East West’s donation of 260 acres is all the more commendable because part of it has previously been used as an illegal dump.
“They are not just donating the land, they are going restore it,” Norris said.
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