Councilman Goodwin, Town of Truckee Mayor Alicia Barr, and Council members Carolyn Wallace Dee and Patrick Flora had 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. At the meeting, Council members unanimously approved the Joerger Ranch Specific Plan, also referred to as the Planned Community-3 (PC-3), Zoning Map Amendments, Phase I Tentative Map and Final Environmental Impact Report, allowing for future commercial and residential development in the area which is opposed by many residents but supported by some businesses and pro-business groups. Vice Mayor and Council member Joan deRyk Jones recused herself from attending the discussion and voting due to a potential conflict of interest.
On April 5, 2015 Councilman Goodwin left a comment under Eco Truckee Tahoe Facebook post which had comments from others who had expressed disappointment with his vote and the entire Truckee Town Council.
TRUCKEE COUNCILMAN MORGAN GOODWIN: “As council we approve a zoning plan for PC-3 that will increase density, decrease emissions by reducing trips to Reno and provide opportunities for housing and jobs for truckee and northlake residents, when it makes sense to build. A lot of development isn’t right for the town but I believe this is.”
Councilman Goodwin’s response was quickly challenged online in a reply comment by Mat Miller who is believed to be a Truckee resident.
MAT MILLER: “Why do you want increased density in Truckee? You voted to change the all important affordable workforce housing into “market-price housing”, a complete sell-out. High-density housing right next to the airport anyone can move into is crazy. What facts are you basing your assumption on that this development will decrease trips to Reno or in any way decrease emissions? Rather, your development will increase traffic and emissions especially for your northlake residents to get here. You don’t make sense. According to your own EIR, air pollution will increase and rise above an acceptable level to the point you don’t even mitigate it anymore. We expected you as the so-called environmental candidate to oppose that. You caved in willingly. And what about your voting for development during the worst drought in California history? In addition, you are allowing for the destruction of over 1000 trees without blinking. It seems that you are more talk than action.”
In another comment, Mat Miller also noted some of the other Council members’ close ties to local construction businesses, pro-business groups and businesses in the area near the proposed site.
At least one local resident had told Eco Truckee Tahoe several months ago she had hoped Councilman Goodwin, who ran on a pro-evironment platform, would look out for interests of longtime Truckee residents and would work to protect the environment more than the other Town Council members. Local residents who attended the March 24 meeting and spoke out against the proposed development showed deep disappointment in the Council’s vote.
The Eco Truckee Tahoe Facebook post, on which Councilman Goodwin commented, provided a link to an onEarth.org magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council article, “FISH OUT OF WATER Scary-low snowpack may spell disaster for some California wildlife and ecosystems.”
EcoTruckee.org shared on Facebook the onEarth.org article with the following introduction:
ECO TRUCKEE TAHOE: “But the Truckee Town Council thinks turning yet another local farm-open space area into a development as already abundant strip malls in town with empty offices and stores are in decline is a great idea. It will bring high-wage jobs to Truckee just as the Cancer Center did. Not. It will, however, ruin the environment and the quality of life of local residents while generating short-term profits for the developers.”
At the March 24 Town Council meeting, several local residents voiced their concerns as did local pilots who fear that development very close to the Truckee Airport, considered to be one of the most dangerous general aviation airports in the United States, will be dangerous for pilots, residents and business employees in the area. Representatives of a few businesses likely to benefit from the development voiced their support for the project.
A local resident, Liz Sheppard, who was addressing the Truckee Town Council on March 24, also submitted a letter with more detailed objections and explanations, as did several other Truckee residents.
The entire March 24 Town of Truckee Council meeting can be viewed HERE.
To view the Final Environmental Impact Report for this project, where you can find letters in opposition as well as in support of the development, please use the following link:
Several Truckee residents posted comments on the Eco Truckee Tahoe Facebook page indicating that they felt betrayed by the local environmental organization Mountain Area Preservation Foundation (MAP). MAP provided Eco Truckee Tahoe with the following response:
MOUNTAIN AREA PRESERVATION FOUNDATION: “MAP has been meeting with the PC-3 developers for over 17 years as well as the Town planners to provide recommendations on zoning, allowed uses and a reduction of development with the preservation of open space. The past year we were able to have an impact on the Specific Plan by requesting certain allowed uses the development team was proposing not be allowed, these were fast food restaurants, car/rv sales lots (along why 267), large floor plate chain stores. We were successful in getting those allowed uses removed. We also requested there be incentives to relocate the industry from the river to be placed near the airport in the manufacturing areas. We negotiated that 23 acres be preserved in perpetuity as open space to be donated to the land trust. Additionally there is a community benefit for land to be donated to CATT for a community non-profit building, MAP requested that if CATT chooses to not build on the 3 acre parcel it remain as open space. We have also been a voice of support for the workforce housing parcel which is 4 acres, we are lacking affordable and market rate rentals, and this is one of the last parcels within the Town boundary and general plan’s planned development that has been outlined for that specific use, a huge need in the community currently. There is no actual development proposed at this time. When real proposals come forward we will be able to review them for constancy and environmental impacts and determine if the development is fit for the site.”
More letters from local residents can be seen HERE.
Pro-development organizations, such as the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe (CATT), are strongly supportive of the project. CATT supports C.A.T.T. Community Project, a 501c(3) non-profit, charitable organization established in October 1999 as a separate but related arm of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe. C.A.T.T. Community Project has announced that the triangle shaped parcel on Hope Court as outlined in the proposed PC-3 Specific Plan, as part of Parcel 4, is expected to be donated to C.A.T.T. Community Project for use as a building site to house area nonprofits.
Use of charitable donations may be designed to win backing or at least absence of opposition for new development and construction activity in the Truckee-Tahoe region from several nonprofit organization which may benefit from a new nonprofit center.
In a similar move, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District announced recently donations to two local environmental nonprofits. These donations are based on the amount of jet fuel sales at the airport. Such moves by the Truckee Airport officials may neutralize any potential opposition from these environmental groups to the projected and already occurring growth of jet traffic at the airport. Jet noise and jet pollution damage the environment, the quality of life of local residents, and may lower their home values when their neighborhoods are exposed to more loud jet noise and increasing plane traffic.
Unlike CATT, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District receives approximately $4.3 million in an annual subsidy from local taxpayers. The Airport in effect uses taxpayers’ money for its donations to local pro-development business groups and nonprofits. Some senior Truckee airport staffers are involved with local pro-business and pro-development groups.
On the Joerger Ranch Specific Plan or PC-3, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District did not join local pilots in opposing the development on aviation safety grounds, while the Airport Land Use Compatibility Commission allowed commercial buildings in the area proposed for development.