Town’s authority over college project disputed
Sierra College’s plans for a campus on Truckee’s McIver Hill may be headed toward some early bumps in the road. The college district and the Town of Truckee disagree over whether the project has to comply with town standards and receive town approval.Sierra College is developing an environmental impact report for the 74,000-square-foot educational complex, 200-bed apartment complex, and three future buildings that will make up the Truckee campus. The environmental document should be completed by March, according to Sierra College planning director Woodrow Wilson.The Town of Truckee is asking that the college district apply for zoning changes and appropriate permits for the project, while complying with the town development code. The process would be the same as a traditional development application, which normally takes approximately eight months to complete, said Truckee Town Planner Duane Hall.”But this being a public project and a project that the town supports, we may be able to shave several months off of that,” said Hall.The town review has the potential to delay the campus construction, which was slated to begin this year. The McIver Hill facility will hold 40 classrooms upon completion, according to Sierra College plans. In a letter to the Truckee planning department, Truckee Town Attorney Dennis Crabb said the community college district, unlike a University of California school, will have to comply with Truckee’s planning regulations, especially since it will use public funding for construction.Wilson said no state laws require the community college to comply with local planning regulations.”It is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of statute, and the statute is very clear that cities do not regulate the plans of community colleges,” said Wilson. “We strongly disagree with the town attorney’s interpretation.”Wilson said that although Sierra College should not be subject to town codes and permits, the community college has worked to make the project compatible with Truckee standards.”I frankly don’t see any conflict,” said Wilson. “We’ve worked with the town development code.”The Truckee Town Council will decide Thursday, after the Sierra Sun’s press deadline, whether to send a letter to Sierra College asking that the college update a biological and wetland assessment and noise study used in the environmental review.The town also has concerns about the visibility of the project from Interstate 80 and whether the access road for the campus will connect at the intersection of Highway 89 south and Deerfield Drive, or be pushed to the north of that intersection, said Hall.Sierra College and the Town of Truckee have discussed these issues, said Hall, and the town is waiting to hear the college’s reasoning behind their position that the campus project is exempt from town review.”There’s good communication between their staff and our staff,” said Hall.
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