Petition targets East West resort
The Town Council’s unanimous approval of East West Partners’ Old Greenwood resort on June 20 may be more of a beginning than a final verdict on the project, if a recently formed group has their way.
Truckee SOS (Save Open Space), a grassroots citizen’s committee that is reported to have formed as a result of the resort development’s approval, is circulating a petition asking that the council rescind or put to a vote via special election two ordinances that are central to the project’s approval.
In order to put the ordinances back before the town, organizers must gather signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in Truckee. Those names then have to be submitted to the town clerk within 30 days of the adoption of the ordinances.
Though the council passed Old Greenwood on June 20, ordinances relating to the projects approval were not formally adopted until June 28.
According to the Nevada County Elections Department, there are 7,446 active, registered voters in Truckee, so those circulating the petition will need the signatures of 745 qualified voters.
But in order to account for a percentage of signatures that will likely not to count, Truckee SOS organizer Beth Ingalls said they are hoping to collect 1,100.
“We are within striking distance,” she said on Tuesday.
In a prepared statement, the group said they felt the need to act because of the project’s unanimous approval by town government.
“With the exception of Fred Zabell on the planning commission, who voted against the project, and Nancy Richards, who was forced to recuse herself, we believe our local government did not represent many Truckee residents who favor smart growth,” said a Truckee SOS press release. “We believe that if we don’t make our voices heard now, East West’s other planned development for Truckee, which is currently being marketed over the Internet as Gray’s Crossing, will also be rubber stamped for approval.”
“We came about because of the 5-0 vote by the council [on Old Greenwood],” Ingalls said, adding that she was one of approximately 15 members of Truckee SOS.
But East West’s Roger Lessman said the project went through an extensive public review process.
“First and foremost, we participated in the public process aggressively. We believe in the public process,” he said.
The referendum asks the council to either repeal, or put to vote, one ordinance that approved the development agreement between the town and East West and a second ordinance that approved the rezone of some of the land slated for Old Greenwood.
Over 300 acres were rezoned from rural residential to open space recreation as part of the resort’s approval.
“That rezoning opened a can of worms, because that is where the general plan fails to define housing densities, or commercial densities,” said Tony Pastore, also of Truckee SOS. Lacking definitive densities put the plan out of compliance with the state law, Pastore added.
The same point of densities was raised by the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, who submitted comments to staff and the council prior to the resort’s approval. Town staff and council did not agree with those contentions, and two weeks ago MAPF announced that they intend to challenge the adequacy of the town’s general plan and the approval of Old Greenwood in court.
Ingalls and Pastore said their group is particularly concerned about what they say will be open space degradation resulting from excessive site coverage of the project and the precedent the resort’s approval would set.
But Lessman said the real issue is golf courses being considered open space.
“The issue some people disagree with is golf courses has open space. But whether or not people agree with it, golf is clearly an allowed use in open space under the general plan … that is the underlying issue.”
In addition to the council’s unanimous approval, the development was approved 3-1 by the planning commission on May 29.
The Town of Truckee Planning Department also recommended the approval of Old Greenwood and it received the support of such groups as the Truckee Trails Foundation.
Old Greenwood, as approved, 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 is proposed to 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.
The 30-day period ends on a Sunday, July 28, and Town Clerk Patt Osbourne said she was still in the process of determining if Friday, July 26 or Monday, July 29 was the deadline for the petition, or any lawsuits that would are filed.
Ingalls said Truckee SOS plans to turn their referendum and signatures in by Friday.
Regardless, it won’t stop development on the property, Lessman said.
“We still have a permit for a project. And that project is Featherstone. And with Featherstone, the Truckee Trails go away, the donation to the land trust goes away and the gated community comes back. But we don’t think that that is in the best interest of the community,” he said.
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