Truckeee Town Council approves Gray’s Crossing
The Truckee Town Council approved Gray’s Crossing – Truckee’s largest development since it incorporated 10 years ago – at a meeting Thursday, after slightly altering conditions of water monitoring and affordable housing.
All the approvals on the project were unanimous except for the development agreement ordinance, a point where Councilwoman Beth Ingalls dissented. Ingalls objected to conditions in the development agreement that would retract offers of land donation to the town or a public agency if the project was subject to a lawsuit, referendum, or other legal complaint. She also hinted that the “no golf course alternative” was not explored seriously.
“I was elected by 21,000 people in this town who spoke out strongly against golf courses,” she said.
However, the other councilmembers strongly supported the development agreement and the unprecedented package of community benefits tied to it.
“We have such a diverse amount of community benefits that it is overwhelming,” said Councilman Ted Owens. “As a governing body I think that we have done a good job of putting this project through filter after filter after filter.”
The list of donations and public benefits attached to the project is long. In land donations alone, East West Partners has offered two church sites, a school site, the 13-acre “commercial triangle” and a 9.5-acre piece called the “rectangle.”
Other benefits include offering affordable housing, construction work and material sales to locals first. A transfer fee, trail system that extends outside of the Gray’s Crossing development, and the site and planning for a performing arts center in the village, are other items East West highlights as benefits to the town.
The public had an opportunity to comment on changes made in the development agreement. Stefanie Olivieri, representing Mountain Area Preservation Foundation and Sierra Watch, voiced the environmental groups’ continued opposition to details of the project.
“Let us be clear that we do not support the golf course and many other aspects of the project,” Olivieri said.
Olivieri also called the conditions in the development agreement that withdrew community benefits in the event of a lawsuit or referendum “egregious.”
“The provisions in these sections violate the citizens’ constitutional right,” she said. “We suggest that this section be deleted from the development agreement.”
However, Town Attorney Dennis Crabb and the council disagreed. They noted that the provision would allow East West Partners to recover some of the expenses of redesigning the project or fighting litigation.
Former Mayor Maia Schneider supported the project during public comment, emphasizing the generous contribution to the community that the proposal contained.
“Certainly tonight’s goodie bag from East West contains everything we could hope for,” Schneider said. “If you want to keep affordable housing and employees in the area you cannot continue to extort,” she said, referring to suggestions that the council was asking for too much from the developers.
“I would have to ask anyone who would bring a lawsuit, ‘Why? Why would you do that?'” Schneider said.
Councilman Craig Threshie agreed, “I strongly feel that a referendum or lawsuit would be inappropriate, because these issues have been whipped to death.”
One of the changes to the development agreement was that 21 lofts that were originally to be priced as affordable, were allowed to be sold at market rate. As a tradeoff, East West agreed to offer 21 cottages at a price affordable for a median-income family of four.
“Staff’s position is we think that it provides more family-oriented affordable housing,” said Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook. “We think that the town got the better end of the deal.”
Additional water quality monitoring was decided on after a collaborative effort of East West Partners, Councilman Craig Threshie and Mountain Area Preservation Foundation came to an agreement. The developers consented to letting the Truckee River Watershed Council lend its intimate knowledge of the area water table to the water quality plan, and act as an oversight agency. The monitoring plan was also tightened up to require surface and ground water testing on a more frequent basis.
The actions that the council took were to certify the Environmental Impact Report, approve the use permit, planned development, tentative map and lot line adjustment. The council also abandoned public utility and access easements on portions of the property, and approved the specific plan. Following those actions, there were two ordinances introduced: one approving an amendment to the Zoning Map and Development Code to modify scenic boundaries, and the other approving the development agreement, on which Councilwoman Ingalls dissented.
The ordinances are scheduled for final adoption by March 20, 2004.
Gray’s Crossing Project Manager Rick McConn said East West Partners was pleased with the outcome of the town’s process. He noted the amount of public participation during the course of review, calling it a deliberate process.
If all goes well, McConn sees developers beginning infrastructure construction by late summer.
The development agreement has a three-phase outline for Gray’s Crossing, with each phase taking five years. Construction of lots and cottages west of State route 89 and north of Alder Drive is planned for the first phase. The second phase would involve construction of the village area, and areas east of State route 89 and south of Prosser Dam Road. The construction of the golf course is expected in 2005 or 2006, McConn said.
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