Town settles lawsuit over property |

Town settles lawsuit over property

The Town of Truckee will avoid or at least delay the Peoria Sunnyside, L.L.C. litigation trial while pursuing a more cost-effective agreement with the developer, town officials said Wednesday.

Truckee Mayor Maia Schneider announced an agreement was reached with the help of a court appointed mediator, which pursues a settlement of the litigation filed by Peoria Sunnyside, L.L.C. against the town.

The town has agreed to accept for review an application for development on the 13.5-acre property located at the southwest intersection of Interstate 80 and State Highway 267. In earlier stories, the land was identified as the “Barsell property,” after Richard Barsell, an officer with Peoria Sunnyside.

The agreement includes consideration of an amendment to the Downtown Specific Plan to allow housing on the lower parcel of the two properties in addition to the hotel and commercial uses originally planned for

the site through the Downtown Specific Plan.

Peoria Sunnyside has agreed to apply for planned development zoning leading to development of a 120-room hotel, 26,000 square-feet of retail, 16,000 square-feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of sit-down restaurant space and some second-story residential space. It also provides for the potential future expansion of the hotel up to the originally planned 120 rooms.

Schneider said this approach provides an opportunity for the community to take a new look at this key gateway to the downtown area.

“The process will allow us to consider new issues and opportunities including the acute need for housing and the planned modifications to the freeway ramps that provide access to this site and downtown Truckee,” Schneider said.

“Because it is critical that we receive as much public input as possible, the town will be making efforts throughout the process to assure citizens’ voices are heard; including focus groups, community workshops and public hearings. We have directed staff to initiate the public outreach effort at once and to continue throughout the project review,” she said.

The project proposal, expected to be submitted on Feb. 14, increases the retail and office space potential for the site while assuring the development of a significant lodging facility on the property, a key component of the Downtown Specific Plan.

Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said that the conceptual plans incorporate a prominent lodging facility oriented to the freeway and retail and office fronting on an extension of Jibboom Street as envisioned in the Downtown Specific Plan. The mix of lodging, retail, office and housing on the property support the desire for mixed use identified in the general plan and the downtown plan.

The town will consider financial assistance to help with the cost of public infrastructure necessary to serve the hotel site. Based upon preliminary analysis, that cost appears significant. The project site is located within the Downtown Study Area and the Redevelopment Project Area, providing the mechanism for considering such financial assistance, a common practice in California.

Lashbrook also noted that the settlement agreement contains safeguards to ensure that the vision established for this key gateway in the Downtown Specific Plan is maintained. These include maintaining the current retail limitations which prohibit freeway oriented retailers and large retail box users.

The agreement also does not allow construction of the retail or office to proceed until the hotel developer and operator are identified and a guaranteed agreement for construction and operation is executed.

William Abbott of the firm Abbott and Kinderman served as the court supervised mediator.

“This is a difficult issue for everyone involved, given the controversial history of the parcel and the strong feelings that have been generated on both sides,” Abbott said. “There are no guarantees when a jury makes the decision.

“The town acted very responsibly when it agreed to entertain a new application, which is largely consistent with the existing plan. Several hundred thousand dollars in attorneys’ fees can be saved if the issue can be worked out. If not, the town still has the ability to proceed to trial on the present schedule.”

Upon receipt of the application, additional information will be available from Town Hall.

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