Eco Truckee Tahoe Commentary
More Development Approved for Truckee, Local Residents’ Concerns Ignored at Town Council Meeting
By Ted Lipien
MARCH 24, 2015
Town of Truckee Mayor Alicia Barr and Council members Carolyn Wallace Dee, Morgan Goodwin, and Patrick Flora ignored concerns about overdevelopment, traffic congestion, risk of plane crashes, air pollution and other safety and quality of life issues expressed by several local residents and local pilots at the Town Council meeting on March 24, 2015 and unanimously approved yet another development project in Truckee.
In line with the town leaders’ philosophy if we allow more development, businesses with good paying non-tourism jobs will come, Mayor Alicia Barr and Town Council members Carolyn Wallace Dee, Morgan Goodwin, and Patrick Flora enthusiastically embraced business and residential housing development plans for the the Joerger Ranch area near the Truckee Airport. The Joerger Ranch Specific Plan Area is also referred to as the Planned Community-3 (PC-3) Specific Plan Area. The Joerger Ranch Specific Plan, Zoning Map Amendments, Phase I Tentative Map and Final Environmental Impact Report were all approved unanimously by the Town Council Tuesday night.
The Council almost entirely ignored concerns and requests expressed at the meeting by several representatives of nearby residential communities. The current approach to development favored by the Council has already given Truckee an empty cancer center at a local hospital, deteriorating strip malls with empty stores, traffic jams and air pollution.
Mayor Barr and Town Council members disregarded pleas from local pilots who argued strongly against new development close to the Truckee airport as a public safety issue. Local pilots consider the Truckee airport to be one of the most dangerous general aviation airports in the United States. Several plane crashes occurred at or near the Truckee airport in recent years.
At the Town Council meeting on March 24 there was no mention of rapidly increasing private jet traffic to and from Truckee airport, which will contribute to even more jet noise and air pollution for nearby residents and any future businesses and their employees in the area proposed for development.
Also not mentioned at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night were any extra costs to private developers or local taxpayers for reinforcing residential and commercial buildings within the development zone to withstand possible plane crashes.
There was also no mention of any negative impact of increasing car and plane noise and pollution on home values in the nearby neighborhoods, and in Truckee in general. There was no substantive discussion at the Tuesday meeting of any long term impact of continued development on the character and appeal of Truckee as a tourist destination and an attractive place to live or visit.
During the meeting, Truckee Mayor Alicia Barr and Council members Carolyn Wallace Dee, Morgan Goodwin, and Patrick Flora all showed enormous concern for local businesses and developers in connection with the proposed project.
Pro-development forces should be very happy and proud of their town leaders, while pro-environment, pro-quality of life and pro-ecotourism local residents will have to realize that their voice and their concerns have a limited impact in this town. Politicians, developers and some business interests have scored yet another major victory with the Planning Commission’s earlier approval and Tuesday’s Town Council’s approval of the Joerger Ranch Specific Plan.
Congratulations, but keep in mind that Truckee may soon not be able to recognize itself, lose its special character, and undermine the primary basis for its economy, which is the unspoiled environment. The town may get a few more underutilized buildings, like the cancer center, which should keep the developers and the politicians happy, at least for a while.
Ted Lipien is a journalist, writer and media freedom nonprofit NGO director. His articles have been published in The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, National Review, American Diplomacy Journal and in other newspapers and magazines. His investigative journalism work has been noted by NPR, Fox News, Congressional Record, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other publications. Much of his professional work as a journalist and former acting associate director of the Voice of America (VOA) was focused on Soviet disinformation and propaganda. He has been a Truckee resident for the past four years. He is the author of “WOJTYŁA’s WOMEN: How They Shaped the Life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church,” published in the UK by O-Books (2008) and in Poland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org