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Town considers affordable housing appeal

ANNE GROGAN, Sierra Sun

Truckee Town Council will consider tonight the Tahoe-Sierra Meadows Community Association’s appeal of the Sierra Village Apartment Homes project, approved by the Planning Commission March 8.

The 7.16-acre Sierra Village Apartment Homes project proposes seven two-story buildings comprising 85,600 square feet.

The project will include a 2,000 square-foot office/community building, eight two-bedroom units, 56 three-bedroom units and eight four-bedroom units. Of these, 15 units will rent at the market rate, two will rent to households whose income falls at 60 percent of the Nevada County median income and the remaining 21 units will rent to households with income at 50 percent the county median.

The Nevada County median income is $46,600.

The Tahoe-Sierra Meadows Community Association submitted its request for an appeal to the Town of Truckee based upon six articles of the project’s approval:

– The TSMCA disagreed with article 13 of the Initial Study/Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration stating that the increase in traffic due to the project will be less than significant when mitigation measures are incorporated. The association also said that the project will result in traffic exceeding a level of service standard established by the Truckee general plan.

– The TSMCA also stated that it was appealing on the basis of the traffic study’s approval. The traffic study was cursory and incomplete, the appeal request said.

– Approval of the Conditional Use Permit is also contested in the TMSCA appeal request, which states that preserving the 30-foot setback requirement is an important mitigation measure when considering a multi-family project adjacent to a single-family neighborhood.

– Another approved variance with which the association disagrees is the reduction in parking spaces to two per unit. The request for appeal states that the provision of two parking spaces per unit does not allow for guest parking and could lead to parking on surrounding streets or in the driveway, potentially obstructing traffic.

– The appellant states that increased traffic due to the project will create a public health and safety threat and that the proposed mitigation measure, a right-turn lane from Martis Valley Road onto Highway 267, is not sufficient to alleviate the threat. In addition to the proposed right-turn lane, the appellants request a traffic signal at Martis Valley Road and 267, and a left-turn lane from Martis Valley Road into the project driveway.

– The homeowners association also requests an appeal of approval based upon the document State Findings for Disapproving an Affordable Housing Project or Imposing Conditions, which states that an agency may disapprove an affordable housing project if approval would result in a high concentration of affordable housing units within the same neighborhood. The association’s appeal document states:

“The Highway 267 corridor, identified as a planning area and therefore a neighborhood by definition, already has a disproportionate concentration of low-income housing.”

In response to TSMCA’s appeal request, town staff directed LSC, responsible for conducting the original traffic study, to conduct a more detailed survey of the project’s impacts on traffic in the area.

The updated traffic study revealed that traffic volumes are greater than the original study found and that the intersection of Martis Valley Road and Highway 267 meets two, rather than none, of the 11 warrants for traffic signal installation at the intersection.

“Generally a traffic signal is not warranted unless four or more of the warrants are met,” Town Planner Duane Hall said.

The applicant, Atlantic Development and Investments, has not requested a mandatory density bonus increase, which would bring the number of residential units in the project to more than 100, but instead requested a variance of the 30-foot setback.

As required by state law, the town must provide incentive of equivalent financial value to a density bonus increase. The incentive was provided to the developer in the setback variance.

Documents supporting town staff’s recommendation that council tonight deny the appeal state that the buildings with the setback reduction are not located adjacent to any residential parcels or to the Sierra Meadows subdivision.

“If the project site was less than three acres, the rear and side setbacks would be five feet,” Hall wrote in his report to council.

Hall’s recommendation does not suggest amending the setback variance.

“The term ‘neighborhood’ is not defined by the government code, the general plan or zoning ordinance, nor is the term ‘planning area’ used by the general plan,” Hall wrote in response to the appellant’s concern that the Highway 267 corridor contains a disproportionate concentration of low-income housing.

Truckee Pines Apartments, Riverview Homes and the Senior Center are not in the same neighborhood as the Sierra Village Apartment Homes project, Hall wrote, because the three developments are located more than 2,000 feet north of the project site, do not share or use any streets common with the project site or the Sierra Meadows subdivision, and are physically separated from the project site by Highway 267 and the Ponderosa Golf Course.

In other business:

– Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook will announce the April 10 release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Planned Community-2 Specific Plan and outline the remaining review process for PC-2.

The extensive Draft EIR will be available in paper copy, on CD-ROM and on the Web. Its release marks the beginning of a 60-day public review period on the document.

– Jackie Ginley, Phebe Bell and Kathy Lucas will present an overview of the Kids Zone Project, a collaborative effort of many local agencies to create a family resource center and an optimal indoor recreation area for children up to five years old.

– Council will be asked to formally oppose the passage of Senate Bill 402 (Burton) by adopting Resolution 2000-19. If passed, SB 402 would mandate a system of compulsory and binding arbitration for the settlement of collective bargaining disputes between public employers and police and fire unions. If adopted, Resolution 2000-19 will inform the governor and state legislators that the town is concerned about private arbitrators, who are not accountable to the community, making fiscal decisions which concern the community.

– Council will be asked to adopt Resolution 2000-21, approving submission of a housing rehabilitation grant. If successful, $420,500 in grant funds would go directly to housing rehabilitation in the form of low-interest loans to downtown, Gateway and 267 corridor property owners.

– Council will receive an update on the developer’s progress in Wolfe Estates Phase IV.

– Award Restroom Facilities Corporation the depot restroom remodel contract in the amount of $53,103.

– Karl Dreher, Project Manager for Caltrans District 3, will update council on Caltrans projects in the area.


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