Questioning Hilltop | SierraSun.com

Questioning Hilltop

Greyson HowardSierra Sun
Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunDale Creighton of SCO Planning and Engineering and Truckee Town Planner Duane Hall point out landmarks of the proposed Hilltop public park to concerned citizens at the Hilltop Master Plan meeting Thursday.
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Walking among old cabins atop Truckees historic ski hill, neighbors of the planned Hilltop project were among a delegation that toured the location Thursday afternoon to get a feel for what the new subdivision would look like.Overlooking downtown Truckee, the 57-acre project would include a mix of commercial, residential and lodging on a site that for decades was the center of winter sports in the western United States. The projects master plan is inching toward approval by the town. But some still have questions about the project before the town signs off. Among those touring the site were town planners, elected officials and community advocates.Were uncomfortable with not having an [Environmental Impact Report] with such a big project, said President John Eaton of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation during the walk.He said aspects of the project warrant more scrutiny, including the large impervious surface created by the roads and parking near wetlands, the potential impact on the towns view of the hill, and the ownership of the proposed open space.To that end, planning consultant Terry Watt said the foundation had requested a longer comment period on the projects environmental documents to see if the more-stringent report is necessary.We want time to consider reasonable modifications to the project so we dont actually have to require an [Environmental Impact Report], Watt said in a phone interview.Town Planner Duane Hall, who led the outing to the project site, said the town has complied with the foundation request, extending the comment period to Jan. 8. But Hall defended the existing environmental review, a mitigated negative declaration, as appropriate for the project.We proposed a mitigated negative declaration because it analyzes and mitigates all potential impacts of the project, Hall said. An Environmental Impact Report is required when there are significant impacts and you dont know how to mitigate them.For instance, the existing document requires no-disturbance zones along the wetland areas, Hall said, and also considers impacts to traffic, among other things. The more-involved review had also been completed on the site previously as part of the Downtown Specific Plan, said Assistant Town Planner Jaime LaChance in a previous interview.The planners had also taken into consideration the projects visual impact, said Dale Creighton of SCO Planning andamp; Engineering, by limiting building heights throughout the plan area.The buildings closest to town on the edge of the hill would not exceed 25 feet, matching the height of the Cottonwood Restaurant building, he said.