West End Coffee and Tap plans scrapped in Truckee
Despite the Truckee Planning Commission’s approval of the West End Coffee and Tap project at Donner Lake, the proposed owners have scrapped the project.
When the project was approved in January, Mollie Hagar, who proposed the project with her husband Bjorn Anderson, said the approval was “a denial in disguise.”
The commission’s approval required the project to include nine parking spaces, a number which Hagar had said they would be unable to meet, due to the limited amount of space on the property. Hagar said reducing the size of the building would harm their business.
“To reduce square footage is detrimental to do business in the winter time,” she said.
To move the project forward the owners had to find additional spaces off site, she said, keeping at least five parking spots on the property. One option included utilizing a public lot operated by Tahoe Donner Recreation and Park District that sits across the street from the 15897 South Shore Drive project site. Hagar said she spoke with the board of directors multiple times without coming to an agreement, despite offering to plow 10 to 15 spots in the winter time when it’s not maintained by the district.
“Every avenue I explored was a dead end,” she said.
The required number of parking spots on the property, as well as noise levels and the impact on surrounding neighbors had held the project up, pushing it through three public hearings.
“The main problem with that site was parking,” Hagar said.
Hagar said the current property owner is tied up in a lawsuit with the owner of a neighboring property. The lawsuit was filed in June 2018, shortly after Hagar submitted and official application to the town.
The house sitting next to the property is 9 inches from the property line, Hagar said, adding the owner wants an easement written into the lease that allows her to store outdoor equipment next to the house and on the adjacent property.
With the lawsuit still active, Hagar said she and Anderson were unable to get a loan from the Small Business Administration for the project.
“It kept us from closing,” Hagar said. “That was one factor that led to the downfall of this whole process,” said Hagar.
Hagar said the planning process alone cost them $40,000 which included costs to survey the land, have conceptual drawings made, and fund fees to the town. She said at this point their family’s savings have been depleted significantly.
At a December planning commission meeting, Hagar said when they first moved to Donner Lake they initially considered buying and renting out a second home. They decided the greatest contribution they could make to the neighborhood was to build the coffee shop.
“If you want to build a business in Truckee and you’re a family, don’t. Just buy a second house,” she said. “I could’ve invested that money into a two bedroom A-frame.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.