Truckee residents vocal in disgust with housing project

TRUCKEE -- M.C. Taylor Construction's Donner Cabins project, which has sparked controversy and debate with neighbors, was approved by the Town of Truckee Planning Commission.

The project is slated to begin in August, constructed on the north side of Donner Pass Road, near Moraine Road. Neighbors, however, did not intend to let the project proceed without a fight.

Citing mostly environmental concerns in regard to the surrounding wetlands, the neighbors who spoke last week intended -- and still intend -- to delay or even stop the project. They have until June 23 to formally appeal the commission's decision.

Janet Brady, who lives in the Donner Lake area, said she will appeal the decision, which will take the project to the Truckee Town Council for final approval. She added that she and probably other neighbors will hire Porter-Simon attorney Steve Gross to handle the appeal.

Brady said neighbors were "infuriated, frustrated, shocked (with the decision) that ecologically sensitive wetland is going to be harmed," she said.

Local planning consultant and M.C. Taylor Construction representative Gavin Ball, who presented the project to the commission, said, "The project is consistent with the town plan and the general plan."

He said the company has made extensive efforts to preserve open space and the environment, leaving 70 percent open space on the lot, and cutting "only 21 percent of the trees." Ball also said the company wanted to keep with the town's philosophy of clustered subdivisions and smaller houses, trying not to populate the area with huge homes.

Adrian Juncosa, a senior ecologist and biological consultant who has years of experience in dealing with wetlands, was brought in by the Brady family to study the site with regards to the wetlands and other environmental concerns. Juncosa said the project had major conflicts with the wetlands on the property.

"It is absolutely clear to me after seeing the plans that the project is about 30 feet into the wetland area," Juncosa said at the meeting. If the project is found to be impeding on the wetland, it will have to be modified greatly.

Ball said two studies done on the project site show it would not intrude into the wetland. "There were already two studies; we want to do a third," Ball said.

Although the two studies and Juncosa's study showed different findings, Ball was confident that a third study would clear up neighbor's questions.

Neighbors also have problems with the projected number of homes. Peter Gerdin, a Truckee resident whose property is adjacent to the project site, said, "The density is way too great."

Taylor Construction plans to build an eight-home subdivision on a 4.98-acre lot.

The density issue, debated throughout last week's meeting, was approved. Planning Commissioner Bob Jensen questioned the proximity and placement of the houses in the plan and said he thought some of the residences would be looking directly down at others.


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