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General Plan is all about our future

Talk of the Town, Heidi Scoble and Robin Wilson Litchfield

How do development projects in Truckee make their way from ideas on paper to the finished product on the ground? What is a General Plan and why should I care? What does a town council member or planning commissioner do?

We think these are questions many members of our community ask. When looking for the answers they are faced with what appears to be a very overwhelming, ambiguous, subjective and outright complicated process. This can leave people more confused than when they started, or at least feeling helpless in becoming involved.

We have decided it’s important members of the community have a greater sense of knowledge and empowerment in the direction their community is going and the effect projects have on their daily lives.

Who are we?

Our names are Heidi Scoble and Robie Litchfield. Robie is a landscape architect in private practice since 1992, has a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, has worked with several planning and landscape architecture firms and is a planning commissioner for the Town of Truckee.

Heidi is an associate planner for the town. She has a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and a master’s of public administration degree from San Francisco State University. She has six years of local government planning experience, three of which have been working for the town.

In the hopes that we are able to address issues pertaining to growth in our community, we have decided to team up to help clear the confusion, demystify the process, and encourage readers to become more aware, if not more active, in our community.

The goal is to provide a regular series of reader-friendly columns pertaining to planning issues the town faces on an ongoing basis. Some articles may be accompanied by illustrations by the very talented Matt Rusanoff, architect and illustrator extraordinaire.

In future articles we aim to introduce the various players and their roles in the public process, illustrate the public process itself, discuss current issues and projects, interview key people and answer questions.

Up for your consideration currently is the general plan Update. Okay, there’s that question – What is a general plan and why should I care?

To put it simply, it’s our Bible, road map, guiding principles, vision statement, community plan, and it’s being revised as we speak.

Call it what you will, it says what we want our community to look like in the future.

If the community wants high-rise apartments, it will tell us how big and what they should look like. If the community wants a ski area in the middle of town, it will tell us where and what kind of facilities will be associated with it. If the community wants a town square, it finds a place for it and gives parameters for its development. If the community wants…well you probably get the picture.

As the general plan is being developed, the key to knowing what the community wants is letting the town know.

How do you do that? Great question!

Many of you received and filled out a survey last winter asking you a few questions about how you view your town and your living experience here. You may have also heard about and or attended the general plan update workshops held last spring/summer. Well that’s not the end of the process; the real work is just beginning, and now is the opportunity to participate and become more involved. Actually, this is the time where your input and participation is most critical and effective.

Through the survey and workshops, key issues and desires have been identified, and now the community can voice its opinion on how they are implemented. In the coming months a series of workshops will be held to determine just what those issues and desires look like and how they will come together in the context of a small mountain town with a diverse and growing population – that’s you.

So you may be asking ‘what can I do, I’m just one person?’

You would be surprised. The workshops have been designed to encourage participation and maximize community involvement in a manner that makes it easy to do this without feeling exposed or on the spot.

You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker or have a master’s degree in planning. All you have to do is come, listen, talk if you want (don’t if you don’t want), and put dots on the walls. Easy! We hope to see you there.

The dates for the first three workshops are Oct. 30, Nov. 13, Dec. 11. All meetings start at 6 p.m. in the town council chambers, at Truckee Town Hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Road. More workshops will be scheduled for after the New Year. If you can’t make the workshops you can watch on Channel 6 as they happen.

If you have an issue that is gnawing at you or have a burning question or just want to tell us what you think, we invite you to contact us at hscoble@townoftruckee.com. It is our hope that this will be a forum in which you will feel comfortable about becoming more informed.

Heidi Scoble is Associate Planner for Truckee, and Robie Wilson Litchfield sits on the Truckee Planning Commission. They can be reached at hscoble@townoftruckee.com.


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