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Opinions on Martis recommendation vary

Christina Nelson

They didn’t all agree, but none of them expected to.

The thirty-first, and final, meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee not only closed the public comment period on the Martis Valley Community Plan, but was also a chance for the committee members to make their separate recommendations.

Each committee member represented a different service agency, district, interest or group, and accordingly, each had a different opinion.

Two committee members voiced a dissenting opinion and recommended that the planning commission consider different options.

Jeanie Blount, the at-large representative, felt that a couple of other alternatives in the draft environmental impact report should be considered instead of the preferred plan.

Lynn Larson, who represents the citizens of Martis Valley, said she doesn’t believe all of the issues have been worked out.

“I can’t with a good conscious say this is a plan that I would recommend,” she said.

But the seven other committee members at Monday’s meeting recommended the preferred plan.

Ron Parr, who represents Lahontan, stated that he does not believe the plan is irresponsible, as some have accused.

“I don’t believe that [Martis Valley] will be indistinguishable from Reno,” Parr said. “Quite frankly I can’t imagine who comes up with this stuff.”

Almost all of the members agreed that they do not want to see Highway 267 “four-laned.”

“I think there’s universal sentiment against the four-laning of 267,” said Mike Moretti, who represents the Northstar Homeowner’s Association.

Both Moretti and John Loomis of Northstar-Trimont Land Co. said they do not want to see the Schaffer Mill and Big Springs Drive connection. They said they agree that it should be an emergency and pedestrian road, but not a main thoroughfare.

Brad Stapley of the Truckee Sanitary District noted that infrastructure is already in place in the Martis Valley that could have handled development under the 1975 plan.

Some members felt that the costs of affordable housing should not fall solely on the plan and the developers.

“We need to find a solution [for affordable housing] and the solution is probably eight different solutions,” said Kevin McCall of the Illinois Investment Group.

The Town of Truckee also presented a recommendation Monday night in front of the committee.

“Recognizing that we have been invited to comment on the Martis Valley Community plan DEIR, we have been careful to respect that it is a Placer County process,” Councilman Ted Owens said at Monday’s meeting.

“Conversely, we ask respect be afforded the Town of Truckee in consideration of this community plan.”

The town does not have direct authority over the Martis Valley Plan, but it can make recommendations to the planning commission. In an attempt to do so, the town wrote a letter to the commission with specific concerns and requests.

The letter states: “We believe that the loss of open space is the fundamental issue associated with the growing public concern regarding the plan. It is, in fact, the open space in the Martis Valley and other areas around our region that create the economic engine that drives our collective economies.”

The town suggested that the county consider alternatives such as clustered land use to reduce the amount of land disturbance. Council members were also concerned with traffic, air quality and affordable housing.

The letter noted that the number of jobs generated by the plan – 4,750 – is an incredible number of people who will need housing and requested that the wording of the plan guarantee the construction of an adequate amount of affordable housing.

“My only concern [about the letter] is that it’s not strong enough,” Councilman Josh Susman said at the Aug. 15 council meeting. “I feel we’re knocking on the door of an elephant that’s going to sit on us in a few years.”

A couple of community members commented on their problems with the plan for the last time in front of the committee.

“The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is about citizen involvement in local planning, environmental protection and social justice,” said David Kean, conservation coordinator for the Tahoe Group of the Sierra Club.

“The proposed Martis Valley Community Plan update neither lives up to the spirit of CEQA or the letter of the law,” he said.

The proposed draft of the Martis Valley Community Plan proposes a cap of 9,220 dwelling units in the valley at buildout. Although this is a 22- percent reduction from what was permitted under the 1975 plan, the new plan would allow for about 6,800 more units at buildout than what has already been approved for the valley.

The Placer County Planning Commission will hear the first presentation of the plan from county staff tonight at 6 p.m. at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach.

Once the planning commission considers the plan, they will then take their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors – which is responsible for the final decision regarding the plan.


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