Truckee still waiting for Taco Bell |

Truckee still waiting for Taco Bell

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunThe Taco Bell in Kings Beach is open for business on Monday afternoon. Truckee's Taco Bell used to be located in the Gateway Center, and plans for a new restaurant are in the works.

Plans for a new Taco Bell in Truckee are on hold but still in the works.

The Taco Bell drive-thru restaurant project, set to be built off Donner Pass Road at Cold Stream Road near the Chevron and Union 76 gas stations, has been delayed because an estimated 500 yards of contaminated soil was found at the construction site, said property and franchise owner Gary Lyon, who owned the now-closed Gateway Center Taco Bell.

“We are still in the process of meeting the conditions from the city with an environmental report,” Lyon said. “Everything else has been approved.”

The contaminated soil was the apparent result of diesel-impregnated concrete that was left behind from a previous construction project, Lyon said.

The fast food eatery is planned for the space on western Deerfield Drive occupied by The Beginnings Restaurant, which is set to be demolished. The Taco Bell would be one of only four drive-thru restaurants in Truckee.

While soil testing and plans for its removal are underway, Lyon has asked for an extension on the building’s conditional use permit, which states groundbreaking needs to occur within two years of project approval.

Lyon’s deadline to break ground is October.

The cleanup efforts, which Lyon said have already cost him $70,000 in studies and drilling could cost another $150,000 in excavation and removal, are the project’s second setback.

Yet another glitch might be thrown into the mix. In the time since Lyon’s Taco Bell was approved, the town has added a housing element to the local planning process, and it is now a possibility that Lyon might be required to provide affordable housing to the restaurant’s employees, said project planner Denyelle Nishimori.

“It might mean he would have to pay a fee, provide housing elsewhere, or modify the building to house on site,” Nishimori said. “We don’t know at this point what he will have to do to comply.”

The project is expected to go before the planning commission in October, at which point it will be decided if and how Lyon will need to comply with the new affordable housing regulations, Nishimori said.

After the Truckee Planning Commission approved plans for the Taco Bell in October 2004, the commission raised concerns about the restaurant’s color scheme.

The chain’s purple and magenta sign colors did not comply with the earth tone color guidelines set out by the town, but the Truckee Town Council eventually reversed the planning commission’s decision to deny wooden signs emblazoned with Taco Bell logo.

If the site clean up is efficient and no other obstacles arise, Lyon said he would like to break ground in 2007.

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