Yacht-firm expansion tops town agenda; Council to rule on MAPF’s appeal of W. River proposal
The Mountain Area Preservation Foundation’s appeal of the proposed expansion of a Truckee yacht-building firm will top the agenda at tonight’s regular Truckee Town Council meeting.
Council will conduct the public hearing during its regular meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m., following a special meeting of the council slated for 4 p.m.
MAPF filed an appeal Nov. 24 protesting the planning commission’s approval of expansion by Betts Enterprises, a yacht-building firm located on River Park Place in the Truckee Industrial Park. The organization’s president, Stefanie Olivieri, cited aesthetic reasons for the appeal, including the massive size of the building, the choice of colors and the materials to be used in its construction.
Olivieri said MAPF’s disagreement was strictly with the appearance of the building and not with its proposed industrial use.
The planning commission initially denied the 240-foot-long, 10,000-square-foot structure Oct. 8 because of an inconsistency with the General Plan, Downtown Specific Plan, draft Downtown Specific Plan and the adopted Town Design Guidelines.
Following a public hearing the Betts’ architect was given an opportunity to modify the design, and the revised project was conditionally approved by the planning commission in a 3-1-1 vote Nov. 12.
The revised project design involved a 180-degree turn of the building and application of a split-faced block treatment on the south and east building elevations. The design was intended to incorporate natural materials and colors within the building, provide shadowing and varied architecture on the south and east building facades, and vary the heights of the rooflines as encouraged by the specific Town Design Guidelines referenced by the planning commission.
However, in its appeal, MAPF claims the project remains inconsistent with Town of Truckee Design Guidelines, the General Plan Vision Statement, the General Plan Conservation and Open Space Policy 5.3, General Plan Downtown Study Area Policy 3, Downtown Specific Plan Guiding Policy 3 and the Downtown Specific Plan, Volume 3, Zoning Ordinance, Section 11.03.05, Item F.
“The planning commission approved the project prior to the adoption of the Downtown Specific Plan’s zoning ordinance,” associate planner Gavin Ball said. “Those ordinances are the ones which state a building visible from the river must use natural material and be broken up into smaller structures.”
Ball said the planning staff did not consider it equitable to apply the exact letter of the zoning ordinances to the Betts project, which was approved before the town adopted the ordinances. The General Plan Conservation and Open Space Policy 5.3 and DSP Guiding Policy 5.3 are implemented through the zoning ordinances.
Ball said the draft zoning standards were used as a broad guideline in considering the project, but that the laws were not be applied verbatim.
The Truckee Town Council adopted the DSP on Nov. 6, at which time the DSP zoning standards ordinance was read for the first time. The Betts Phase II expansion was considered by the planning commission Nov. 11 and approved Nov. 12. The town council then had the second reading of the zoning standards ordinance and adopted it Nov. 20. MAPF filed its appeal of the planning commission decision Nov. 24.
The owners of Betts Enterprises, James and Janis Betts, say they have done everything possible to comply with regulations in place for development on West River, and that they have added more than $100,000 in improvements to the structure at the request of town planners.
Janis Betts said the requests by MAPF would raise the cost of the building by as much as $500,000 and would make it impossible to compete with other yacht-building firms.
The entire Betts project, consisting of two buildings, was approved by the planning commission about three years ago, but the second phase had to go through the permitting process again because construction permits had expired. Janis Betts said it took longer than anticipated for the firm to reach the point where it needed to build the second building.
She said the family-owned business, which has been operating for 27 years, currently employs 25 to 30 people during peak times, and might employ as many as 15 more after the expansion is complete.
The town council’s job in the meeting Thursday will be to review the project relative to the General Plan, Downtown Specific Plan and Town Design Guidelines, while considering the past planning commission actions, the basis of the appeal, public input and staff recommendations. The council will then either take action to uphold or reverse the planning commission decision.
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