Visions of the future; MAPF: Watchdog of small town character
To help preserve Truckee for future generations through intelligent, well-planned growth, the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation is at the community’s service.
That is a summary of the vision statement of MAPF printed in its official brochure.
According to Stefanie Olivieri, MAPF president and owner of Cabona’s on Commercial Row, the organization sounds the alarm on any project that has the potential to harm the environment or Truckee’s small town character. It allows residents to actively express their views on how the community is developed.
“MAPF is a watchdog group for the community,” Olivieri said. “We need a collective voice to make an impact by gaining support and strength to lobby for a position. Past developments have been approved that the public isn’t even aware of until the bulldozer hits the dirt.”
Josh Susman, town councilman and former president of MAPF, said the non-profit benefit corporation began in August 1987. It was formed in protest to a proposed 200,000-square-foot commercial development that would have included a K-Mart on the Barsell lot near the cemetery.
After the project was denied by the then-eastern county steering committee, developers appealed the decision to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, which reversed the planning commission’s action saying it knew what was best for Truckee, Susman said.
People in the community, from attorneys to architects, formed MAPF in response to the supervisors’ decision.
“The community of Truckee was outraged,” Susman said. “We knew we needed a group to be a watchdog of projects. About 250 people became members of MAPF in response to the K-Mart (proposal).”
Susman said MAPF filed suit against the K-Mart project, raising money from private entities and took the issue to court. After three years, MAPF won the suit.
Currently, MAPF has about 150 members – many are people who want to keep Truckee a desirable place to live.
“As the issues become more controversial, membership becomes more active,” Olivieri said.
MAPF is now in the midst of trying to amend Truckee’s general plan. The group gathered enough signatures from town residents to place an initiative on the November ballot to keep 50 acres of wilderness on Planned Community 2, a 789-acre developable parcel north of the Interstate 80-Highway 89 intersection, from being converted into a mixed-use residential development.
Developers have planned, but not submitted to the town, the mixed-use project on PC-2 called Boca Sierra Estates. The project summary provides for 368 acres of open space, 329 acres of clustered residential housing, 50 acres for commercial and office space, 22 acres for lodging and recreational uses and earmarks 20 acres for public use.
MAPF’s initiative proposes reducing the amount of commercial space at PC-2 to 25,000 square feet and eliminating any potential for a hotel and recreation facility. In addition, future amendments to the general plan regarding PC-2 would require a two-thirds majority vote of the public.
Also required under the initiative is a majority public vote to change any resource conservation-open space land designations to another land use or to add land uses not listed. The public vote requirement would end Dec. 31, 2020.
“The general plan amendment is a surgical extraction of a specific part of the plan,” Olivieri said. “This initiative protects Truckee’s small town character and quality of life.”
According to Olivieri, the initiative is really two parts: the first deals with the reduction of land use given to PC-2 and the second involves reaffirming general plan land-use designations.
MAPF believes 25,000 square feet for commercial development is enough to sustain PC-2’s development potential of 600 homes. Throughout the general plan process, MAPF tried to get land-use reductions at PC-2, Olivieri said.
“We believe 25,000-square-feet would build a comfortable grocery store and still allow room for a hardware store and drug store, in addition to a video rental or pizza place,” Olivieri said. ” We see the area as passive recreational – a nature-like setting with biking and hiking trails – no golf courses or hotels.”
In terms of reaffirming general plan land-use designations, Olivieri said land-use will not be amended without the vote of the people.
“It takes the issue out of the political realm and puts it into the the hands of the voters.”
Olivieri said in addition to PC-2, the general plan designates three areas for commercial growth: PC-1, which is at the Teichert property on Cold Stream Road; PC-3, which lies on Highway 267 between the Truckee-Tahoe Airport and the Best Western Truckee-Tahoe Inn and the Old Mill site.
MAPF believes infill, which is growth adjacent to existing development, should be developed before untouched wilderness areas. In example, Olivieri said development at the Old Mill site, which the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board determined was environmentally safe for development, could bring consumers into the downtown commercial core.
She added resort or hotel development should be constructed on PC-1, possibly as a redevelopment agency project.
“Developers shouldn’t go out and destroy beautiful natural resources unnecessarily,” Olivieri said. “PC-2 is a beautiful area with one of the last remaining natural wetland areas. Developers have already destroyed 95 percent of our wetland areas. Instead of destroying this last piece for a golf course or hotel, it should be retained in its natural state.”
Olivieri emphasized that MAPF is not against growth in Truckee but concerned where growth occurs and how well-planned it is.
“The question is not growth or no growth, but where growth occurs and PC-2 is a textbook example of commercial sprawl,” Olivieri said. “It does not support the vision of the community but the fiscalization of land. We need growth that benefits the unique small town character of the community. Truckee’s wealth lies in its natural beauty.”
Other concerns regarding the initiative surround the town’s potential loss of transient occupancy taxes with the removal of a resort facility and new school site lands earmarked in the Boca Sierra Estates project plan. According to MAPF, changing the land-use designations at PC-2 would have little impact on these issues.
In terms of the TOTs, Olivieri said developers have yet to determine what type of, if any, hotel facility will be built on the property over the next decade, therefore, it is premature to discuss lost tax revenues. In addition, there are five other sites identified in the general plan for motels and the subsequent TOT revenues, she said.
Olivieri also said the initiative does nothing to stop the developer from donating land for a new school.
“Given the 600 new home sites they will still be building, there certainly will be demand for a new school,” she said.
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