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Airport district rescinds new master plan

Peter Soderquist

The Truckee Tahoe Airport District adopted a master plan in 1988. In 1996, an effort was undertaken to update that plan.

The update recommended the acquisition of 20 to 30 acres of land in the Town of Truckee’s PC-3 area adjacent to the airport.

With a three to four year waiting list for hangars, this location appeared to be well timed. In addition to an ideal location for hangars, the project would result in other advantages to both the Town of Truckee and the airport, including new airport-related low intensity commercial property development opportunities, a new entrance road to the airport, and as much as $250,000 per year in additional revenue to the town from unsecured property taxes associated with aircraft stored in the new hangars.

Further, the additional land would have freed up some airport property to allow modernization of the airport’s existing terminal building and perhaps better integration with local public transit. This represented good airport planning and design and a highly cooperative effort with the airport’s neighbors.

All of these elements were envisioned in the master plan update.

After adopting the new master plan update on Feb. 24, a number of changes occurred which made the update master plan obsolete. The following was disclosed:

– The town’s floor area ratio of 20 percent would limit the available area upon which to develop hangars to about seven or eight rows. This would not be enough to justify the investment.

-A recently received appraisal of the subject property suggested reconsideration of the cost/benefit of this venture.

– The Truckee General Plan requires that a specific plan be processed on the entire PC-3 (the acreage is part of a larger parcel commonly referred to as PC-3) before the acreage in question can be developed for hangars.

– The Town of Truckee challenged a routine request to the Nevada County Transportation Commission in which the airport district indicated that it would like to update its capital improvement program to include the construction of a new entrance road. This action suggested the district’s acquisition of the subject property might be more difficult than expected.

At a special meeting on Monday, May 1, the airport board of directors rescinded the resolutions adopting the master plan update and decided to pursue hangar construction in other areas. With a waiting list of three to four years long, it is not practical to pursue a program which shows little chance of success. The 1988 master plan allows such construction.

A second item of great community interest is the update of the airport’s comprehensive land use plan (CLUP).

Contrary to popular belief, this document does not belong to the airport district and its development is not an Airport project.

The CLUP is actually the responsibility of the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission whose four county membership (Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado) pursues and promotes economic development and safety in their respective areas.

It is separate and distinct from the Master Plan. Mandated by the laws of the State of California, the CLUP serves to benefit communities surrounding airports by creating an effective buffer zone of graduated uses. It promotes safety and compatible development by recommending guidelines for land uses around an airport. There are three areas specifically targeted for attention: noise, the height of structures around an airport, and proposed land uses around the airport. The latter includes an evaluation of the concentration of people for a particular use. The airport land use commission encourages compatible development by recommending adoption of measures that minimize the public’s exposure to these elements.

The State of California is a national leader in promoting compatible land use development around airports. In 1993 the state increased recommended safety measures.

While these changes have been criticized by some, the overall benefit to the community in terms of increased safety and reduced noise impacts is substantial. State guidelines (through the CLUP) discourage projects that open the door to unnecessary risk. This type of program deserves our support.

The CLUP is probably six months to a year away from completion. We hope to be able to keep the community informed during the process. The Truckee Tahoe Airport is a regional asset and an important part of our economy. It wants to be a good neighbor and contribute to the environment which supports our recreation facilities, ski and other job producing businesses which make it possible for us all to live here.

If the state guidelines are given full consideration everyone in the community will benefit. I encourage all to participate.

Peter Soderquist is the general manager of Truckee-Tahoe Airport


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