Truckee development: Senior housing project still getting mixed response
July 15, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A room full of Truckee residents, developers and planners Wednesday night agreed on the need for senior housing in town, but in the end couldn’t agree on whether or not Hilltop is the right place for it.
The planning commission hosted a public meeting on Pollard Station, a proposed senior living center that would be built in the Hilltop area, to give the developers direction on how to go about the project. Five hours later, with questions remaining and differences of opinion and#8212; both in the audience and on the dais and#8212; the direction remains unclear.
Town staff has had concerns about the size of the main building since the beginning, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook, and that was still a major sticking point Wednesday.
and#8220;Staff has reviewed three significant iterations of this project and this is the second time the planning commission has reviewed this,and#8221; Lashbrook said. and#8220;In each case staff has identified major deviations from the Hilltop Master Plan and had significant concerns.and#8221;
The Hilltop Master Plan, adopted in 2008, gave basic zoning delineations to five property owners above the Cottonwood Restaurant, after a lengthy public process lasting about a decade.
Contract Planner Tom Parrillo said, despite recent downsizing by the developers, mass grading of the hillside and significant tree removal (about half of the trees on site) remain big concerns.
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But property owner Bill Fitch said the result is worth the changes to the Hilltop plan.
and#8220;This isn’t a convalescent home, it’s a senior community. We’ve got a hospital bigger than this building, we’ve got schools bigger than this building … the senior community deserves a place to stay,and#8221; Fitch said. and#8220;It’s time we did something for the seniors of Truckee; they need to be a part of the fabric of downtown.and#8221;
Some members of the audience wore stickers with the Pollard Station logo and the word and#8220;yesand#8221; on their shirts, and spoke about the need for senior housing in Truckee.
Ann Delforge, director of Tahoe Forest Health System’s extended care, said resources for seniors in the community are very limited, and it will take a building the size of that proposed to do the job right.
and#8220;If we don’t approve this, we’re basically saying we don’t care about seniors,and#8221; Delforge said.
But Truckee resident Joanna Walters disagreed.
and#8220;Just because somebody doesn’t like the idea of massive development doesn’t mean they’re against senior living,and#8221; Walters said.
Others argued the close-to-downtown location is key in keeping seniors from becoming isolated, while others said to make such a big change to the Hilltop master plan would be a betrayal of all the public planning efforts that came before.
and#8220;This is not whether or not we need senior housing in the community; this is a land-use planning question. I think we’re all on the same page on senior housing and#8212; it’s absolutely necessary,and#8221; said Commission Chair Patrick Flora.
Commissioner Bob Johnston said he is generally in favor of the project.
and#8220;My current view is we need a couple 100 more condos like we need a hole in the head,and#8221; Johnston said. and#8220;This is a rare opportunity to do something useful.and#8221;
Commissioners Heather Gustafson and Stephen Ramos said they still had serious reservations about the project, however, and weren’t willing to say they’d approve the project if submitted as-is.
Allen Radford, one of the other property owners in Hilltop, submitted a letter taking issue with the proposed Pollard Station project.
The letter even goes so far as to state he would not permit the roads and infrastructure needed to get into Pollard Station to cross his property, if approved.
and#8220;We have a master plan; all the owners agreed including Fitch Davis owners of the proposed Pollard Station project, we need to follow it. Until this project can demonstrate its compliance with the approved master plan we shouldn’t have to keep spending time on this,and#8221; Radford wrote in the letter.