Sparks at the Planning and Economic Development Commission (PEDC) hearing regarding a proposed subdivision of a lot along Old Mammoth Road, Tamarack and Carter Street, were dampened on Wednesday, June 26 by promises of wetland preservation. The PEDC conducted a public hearing to a packed house regarding the proposed Danhakl Parcel subdivision, which would split the approximately 2.44 acre site into two lots. The existing single family home would be located on Parcel 1, while the tack room/garage, corral, and majority of the driveway and wetland meadow would be located on Parcel 2.
Anyone familiar with Old Mammoth Road knows this particular parcel because of its lush, open meadow, which constitutes a wetland area. Residents therefore greeted the proposal, which would open Parcel 2 to the development of a new, single family home, with dismay. “I’m not sure if the owner is aware of how many people cherish that meadow and don’t want to see it disturbed,” said resident Jeff Boucher. “If [Jim Danhakl] could get something in the title that says that further subdivision can’t happen, if he could put teeth in it, I’ll withdraw my opposition.”
Owner Jim Danhakl assured the crowd that he had no intention of allowing any development that would compromise the meadow. In fact, although he didn’t have to, he ensured a study by consultants that determined the meadow was a wetland, and that any impact to the meadow by developers would have to be mitigated.
Residents expressed distrust for the mitigation process, however, noting that development could potentially proceed, with impacts to the meadow mitigated off-site. This occurred previously in 1994, when the Planning Commission approved a Mitigation Negative Declaration for a grading permit for the construction of the current, single-family residence on the existing lot. Because the project necessitated filling a portion of the wetlands, the property owner was required by the Lahontan Regional Water Control Board, Department of Fish and Game, and Mammoth Community Water District to provide wetland mitigation off-site. Mitigation occurred at Laurel Pond.
“[Mitigation] does nothing to preserve the character of Old Mammoth,” Boucher stated in a letter to the Commission; “This spring we have observed so much wildlife in the meadow—ducks, bear, deer, coyotes and more species of birds than we could count. It would be a devastating loss to the community to destroy this special oasis in Old Mammoth.”
Neighbor David Smith also voiced his concern about the impacts of a new single family home to parking in the area, which is limited to Carter Street, a private street that acts as a driveway for the adjacent four lots. If Danhakl were to subdivide his lot further in the future, Smith said, “You’re going to create [even more] non-conforming lots.” Any further subdivision could also enlarge the building footprint to a second, half-acre site, said Boucher, which would also encroach on the meadow.
Jim Danhakl rose after the comment portion of the hearing to address the concerned residents of Old Mammoth. “I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is,” he said. “If this [request for subdivision] is granted, I can’t tell you whether it would be through a conservation easement, or maybe an outright donation to the city, but at the minimum, I’m willing to codify this on the deed, that there will be no development on the wetlands. The Town will have what you and I want, which is to drive up Old Mammoth 50 years from now and see a beautiful meadow.”
Danhakl also noted that the subdivision would be a boon to the community, as one of the town requirements for the proposal is a new bus stop turnaround on the east side of Tamarack Street, as well as the installation of a fire hydrant on Carter Street.
PEDC Vice Chair Mickey Brown suggested a redraft of the option, with a continuance to September 11. This will give Town staff and Danhakl a chance to hash out issues of parking access and find a mechanism for the permanent preservation of the wetlands.