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Tackling issues with Hilltop proposal

Guest Column, Andrew Esler

The latest development proposal for the Historic Hilltop was presented to a good showing of local residents – despite an inconvenient meeting time – to assess what developers believe to be an appropriate use of this site. This presentation is the first step in a process that allows the public, town council, and developers to decide on the future of this historic site.

In a nutshell this development proposes 368 units on 53 acres with 1,173 parking spaces. An additional three-story apartment building proposes 80 units, which equal 23 units per acre, with individual sizes ranging from 700 to 1,200 square feet per unit. Add 68,000 square feet of retail space, a bed and breakfast, several restaurants, and you have a small-scale town.

The issues that stood out to me are:

— Whether the 20-acre parcel to the south (uphill) should actually be included in the plan. At present the parcel is zoned RR 0.2, or one house per 5 acres, and is not part of the downtown master plan so I see no reason for its inclusion.

— That the same parcel indicates some workforce housing planned. Developers clarified that all 41 lots in this parcel would be market value housing, and not workforce housing, as indicated on drawings.

— Many of the proposed office and retail spaces were sketched as three-story buildings that are not in keeping with Historic Downtown Truckee.

— The location in relation to the access and the effects it will have on our already congested town. The traffic report, commissioned for the site by LSC Transportation Consultants Inc. and dated Oct. 16, 2003, states that the proposed main entrance onto Brockway (old state Route 267) would fail to function during peek traffic hours.

— Hilltop is located directly under the flight path and designated as an airport influenced area. Should this not be taken into consideration when noted that the proposed growth from the current 48,000 flights per year is anticipated to increase to 120,000 within the next 10 years? What should the developers be required to do regarding this aspect of the development? Increased soundproofing, tempered glass, other construction considerations seem like basic requirements to me.

— The workforce housing planned in the development will be for homes in the $350,000 to $400,000 price range.

These are only some of the issues I have identified in relation to the proposed development. There are other issues, such as the affordable housing (what is affordable housing?), environmental impact, traffic plans, and maintaining historic integrity, including the old ski hill (which was not addressed in the meeting), that will need to be addressed as the plan progresses through the town approval process.

I look forward to being involved in a process of responsible development and encourage all concerned parties to get involved at the next public meeting. We can make a difference in how our town is developed.

The proposed new master plan has many elements that need to be reviewed. I encourage interested parties to make their feelings known to Heidi Scoble (hscoble@townoftruckee.com) in the Community Development Department of the Town Planning Office by the deadline for public comment of Feb. 13.

Andrew Esler has been active in researching and following the development plans for the Historic Hilltop Site. Contact him to join the Ponderosa Palisades Neighborhood group at Andrew@AskSharron.com.


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