Town council, airport board seek compromise
After five hours, both the Truckee Town Council and the Truckee Tahoe Airport Board of Directors left Monday night’s meeting with only part of what they came for.The town of Truckee entered Monday’s meeting looking for the airport board’s support on airport land use compatibility plan (CLUP) issues. The airport board wanted design approval for five rows of airplane hangars.The town got the airport’s support on a few of the many CLUP issues they wished to address, and the airport got design approval on one out of five rows of hangars. The five-hour meeting, attended by more than 70 people, elicited scores of public comments from both sides of the airport issue. The amount of public involvement illustrated the widespread interest in the airport and the CLUP, which is still in preliminary draft form. The CLUP is a land use plan that governs long-range development around the airport to ensure that airport operations and future development are compatible. The plan looks specifically at safety concerns, prohibiting or limiting development that would run a high risk of being hit by a crashing plane.The airport board and the town of Truckee have no control over the creation of the CLUP, but as affected entities their comments carry weight with the Foothill Area Land Use Commission, the body entrusted with creating the plan. A joint letter will send one unified signal from both public entities that the CLUP should be based on a maximum of just over 60,000 annual airport operations, not the 120,000 that the airport consultant is using in the preliminary draft. The numbers that the compatibility plan is based on have raised more and more controversy as the plan moves ahead. At 120,000, the airport consultant’s operations projections is nearly twice the number that the Airport Master Plan foresees for the year 2020. Both the airport and the town agreed that the CLUP should be based on the 2020 master plan number, 61,600, which should reduce the area of the safety and noise zones that appear in the draft CLUP. That will likely have large impacts, as several important locations, including Tahoe Forest Hospital and Alder Creek Middle School, are nearly outside of compatibility zones.The letter will also advocate specific exceptions to the compatibility plan zones for development at the railyard site downtown, a potential community center at the triangular piece of land donated by East West Partners, and expansion of the Tahoe Forest Hospital. The town and the airport, however, did not reach agreement on several other sites that the town says should get exceptions, such as the Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee Tahoe Sanitation Agency property and Truckee Sanitary District land. The design review of the airport’s hangars hit a snag when the council began to question whether they should give design approval to a project that is scheduled to occur over 20-plus years. The airport wanted blanket design approval for the five rows of 80 hangars, but the council voted 3 to 1, with Councilman Ron Florian absent, to approve the first row and require that the others come back for approval before they are built. Councilman Ted Owens, the lone opponent, favored letting town staff, rather than the council, review the design of the remaining four hangars in the future. Council members Threshie, Ingalls and Susman voted to have the airport come back to the council for review.