Town council approves Brickelltown compromise
Truckee Town Council approved a compromise Thursday, Aug. 20, to settle a dispute between the Truckee-Donner Historical Society and developer Tom Grossman, who is seeking a permit to demolish two old houses in Brickelltown.
In November 1997, Grossman submitted an application for a certificate of economic hardship to demolish the two homes, which are listed in the Truckee Historic Resources Inventory.
His application was the first submitted under the Downtown Specific Plan, which requires the planning commission to make special findings to allow the demolition or removal of structures listed on the historic inventory or structures in the downtown area
constructed prior to 1940.
The planning commission denied Grossman’s application on July 8, after extensive public comment and deliberation.
The Truckee-Donner Historical Society contended the demolition should not be allowed to proceed until the Historic Resources Inventory is updated, as specified in the Downtown Specific Plan. When that update is completed, the historical and architectural value of buildings on the inventory will be determined – but work on the update is not scheduled to begin until January 1999.
Grossman appealed the planning commission decision, but worked through his attorney, Bob Tamietti, to craft an agreement acceptable to all parties, which updates the inventory ahead of its original schedule.
Under the compromise:
Town council will uphold the appeal and rescind the planning commission’s action to deny the certificate of economic hardship.
Town council, with the consent of the applicant, would defer taking any action on the application, subject to the conditions of the agreement.
Town staff would immediately begin updating the Historic Resources Inventory, and Grossman would contribute $3,500 to the town’s efforts.
Based on information gathered through the inventory update, the town council must make a determination by April 30, 1999, on whether the subject buildings are historic landmarks.
If the buildings are designated as historic landmarks, a certificate of economic hardship would have to be approved by the town to allow the demolition of the buildings.
If the buildings are not designated as historic landmarks or the town takes no action on the landmark designation, the applicant would be able to demolish the buildings without further approval by the town, (except a building permit) but would still be subject to the applicable conditions listed on the original staff report.
While the inventory is being updated, Grossman will be able to process a zoning approval application for a replacement use on the parcels.
“From the start, the historical society’s position has been to question the policy set by the town,” society president Chelsea Birch said. “We want to see the historical resource inventory updated as specified in the Downtown Specific Plan, before demolition requests are considered.” She said the approval of the compromise provides all sides with a clear idea of what must be done.
Steve Frisch of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association also spoke up in favor of the compromise.
“I’d ask you to support the resolution,” Frisch said. “Quite a lot of work went into it from a number of different sides. Tom Grossman should be applauded for that, because not many people would put themselves in the position which he did.”
Guy Coates, a writer, historian and member of the historical society, also lauded the decision, which he said will result in a more complete knowledge of downtown’s history.
“This will in the long run save the town a lot of time and a lot of trouble,” Coates said. “The 1979-80 survey was mostly of architectural merit. It did not discuss who lived in the area.” He said the historical value of a building depends also on who lived in it and what happened there.
Grossman thanked Council Member Maia Schneider, who was present at the meetings, to develop the compromise, along with representatives from the historical society, downtown merchants, and the town staff.
Town Planner Duane Hall said the compromise is best for the town, because it defers action for nine months while the situation is studied.
“It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved,” he said.
The two houses Grossman seeks to demolish are located immediately to the west of the C.B. White House on Donner Pass Road downtown.
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