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Soaring Ranch Development Proposes Settlement Offer to Litigation

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By ART CHAPMAN  |  Truckee

In the litigation against the Town of Truckee over the approval of the Soaring Ranch project, anchored by a Raley’s grocery store, a new development has recently come to light, therefore I want to provide your readers with an update.

As you may know well, we have been working diligently to make the new Soaring Ranch development project come to fruition. This project will satisfy many needs in our community including a flagship Raley’s grocery market and achievable housing (housing options for residents covering a broad range of income levels, from low to above moderate). In late April, a lawsuit was filed against the town by nonprofit Protect CEQA and local business owner Stefanie Olivieri, which we believe is motivated by interests tied to downtown Truckee. After thoughtful consideration of concerns expressed in the lawsuit, JMA Ventures has proposed what we believe to be a meaningful settlement offer.

One primary concern made known is that the Soaring Ranch development would potentially pull business away from downtown. The settlement offer was designed to directly minimize this potential. The new proposal would significantly reduce commercial and retail space at Soaring Ranch by approximately 50 percent from the approved plan. We also believe that our historic downtown is the heart and soul of our community and want to help ensure its continued vibrancy and health, which is why we are proposing to reduce the allowable retail space at Soaring Ranch and replace it instead with much needed achievable housing. The new market-rate and inclusionary multi-family housing units are proposed at a density of 16 to 20 units per acre and will result in the construction of almost 150 new rental housing units at the site with 15 percent of these units designated as inclusionary (deed restricted) housing.

Storefronts designated as “tourism retail,” which would compete directly with downtown shops, would not be allowed. Instead, retail use is proposed to focus primarily on service companies such as banking, healthcare, real estate, cleaners, or pharmacies. 

Overall, this settlement offer effectively eliminates the argument that the size of the Soaring Ranch project creates a situation that detracts from our downtown area.

The newly proposed plan also helps to reduce competition to other retail centers in town by cutting the size of the Soaring Ranch commercial space in half and limiting the type of commercial retail shops to more service-oriented versus tourism-focused. Soaring Ranch undeniably provides a more convenient and environmentally sound shopping alternative for south and east Truckee and nearby Placer County residents. It also increases the amount of desperately needed achievable housing on a major traffic corridor that provides access to downtown, Lake Tahoe, and area resorts. Finally, this newly proposed plan creates significant new job opportunities that will be positioned within walking distance of both the new housing, transit connections, and pedestrian-use trails. We will be very surprised if those pursuing the litigation will continue, given the concessions being offered to address the concerns that have been raised, and to settle the lawsuit.

Editor’s Note: As of press time, there has been no response to this settlement offer.

~ Art Chapman is the founder of JMA Ventures, developer of the Soaring Ranch project. He is also a founder of the Tahoe Fund, serving as board chairman from 2016 to 2018. He served on the California/Nevada Governor’s committee that consulted with TRPA on the new regional plan update. He resides in Truckee with his wife, Colleen.

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February 14, 2019