Truckee planners approve amended Waldorf school application to allow for continued operation

New commission Mitch Clarin was sworn in at the start of the meeting.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — It was nearly midnight on Tuesday when the Truckee Planning Commission concluded their meeting after spending hours working with staff and the Friends of Tahoe Truckee Waldorf to help the school be able to continue operating through the end of the school year and beyond. 

Friends of Tahoe Truckee Waldorf purchased 12640 Union Mills Road in 2019 with plans to relocate Golden Valley Tahoe School, which was an existing Waldorf school, onto the property.

In March 2021, Golden Valley Charter Schools which was operated by GVTS had their charter revoked and was forced to close

After the school closed, Friends of Tahoe Truckee Waldorf was formed and parents rallied to create Tahoe Learning Community, a Waldorf-based school. 

In September 2022, FOTTW submitted a charter application to Truckee Tahoe Unified School District which was denied. 

FOTTW and school staff presented an application to the planning commission that, over several project phases, would allow the school to expand from its current 44 student population to 254 students. 

In order to be allowed to expand, several conditions had to be met, including widening of the street, creation of an emergency evacuation plan, new water and water storage permits, paying traffic mitigation fees and several other conditions. 

Representatives from the school had requested that they be allowed to expand to accommodate about 20 more students until the end of the school year. After the school year is complete, they can begin working on meeting all the criteria. 

Commissioner Dave Gove was recused from the item but the other four commissioners expressed support for the school but felt like their hands were tied when it came to approving the application. 

Many students, as well as parents and community members, spoke in favor of the school. 

For several hours, the commissioners, staff and representatives from FOTTW went back and forth trying to figure out a way for the commission to approve the application but kept running into walls since some of the conditions, such as the evacuation plan, have to be approved by other entities. 

Ultimately, the commission moved some permit conditions from phase 1 to phase 2, which will allow them to finish the rest of the school year, as long as the school gets approval from the other entities that they need approval from. 

“Our community owes a great big thank you to the four members on the dais tonight for listening to us, for working for solutions and working to try to get to yes,” said Billy Griffin, FOTTW Board Member.  “Working to get to yes is part of the Truckee way … so thank you very much for seeing the need, for seeing people and not rules. Thank you for touching the humanity of it because I know sometimes this process can strip that out. We didn’t get what we asked for but what we got was a very good effort on the part of people who truly care about their community.” 

Phase 2 will need to come back to the planning commission for approval. 

As the hour neared midnight, new commissioner Mitch Clarin, who had been sworn in at the beginning of the meeting, joked about questioning his decision to join the commission. 

During the meeting, the commissioner also heard the 2-year review for the Martis Valley Quarry.

While the quarry was built in the 1950s, it’s been active in its current form since 1983. The quarry mines aggregate that is processed on-site to be used for asphalt. 

Over the years, the quarry has received complaints regarding noise, dust and odor. The owners have been required to show how they mitigate those issues, which is why they are required to have regular reviews. 

According to staff, mitigation efforts have worked and Teichert Aggregates, who owns the site, has not been in violation of their permits. 

While noise and dust has been greatly decreased, residents in the area continue to make complaints about the odor. Michael Smith, the representative from Teichert said they’ve made $1 million investments in odor recapture. 

Joe Fish, Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer with the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, said they have samplers placed on the fire station roof but it would be too expensive to place samplers on the plant itself. 

“Odor complaints are notorious for being hard to track down and take up a lot of staff time,” Fish said but pointed out that just because something has an odor doesn’t mean there is a health risk. 

Later, during public comment, a person who lives near the plant said just because there is no health risk, doesn’t mean there aren’t other negative impacts such as mental wellbeing and property values. 

The commission asked that Teichert require trucks coming in and out of the plant be covered, which might help mitigate the odor. 

Teichert will have to come back to the commission in two years for another review. 

The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.