Compromise reached over Villas at Harborside | SierraSun.com

Compromise reached over Villas at Harborside

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s governing board found a solution last week to the prolonged debate over the proposed construction of the Villas at Harborside in Homewood.

After a long struggle between opponents and supporters of the West Shore project, the agency board voted 12 to 2 Thursday to allow owner Nate Topol to build six timeshare units across the highway from Homewood Mountain Resort

After two previous hearings and extensive discussions with neighbors, Topol proposed reducing the planned number of units from nine to six units, and agreed to other improvements in public beach access, parking, scenic quality and environmental impacts.

“TRPA, the applicant and the community all worked together to create a project that protects the environment while enhancing community character and the economy of the West Shore,” said Jeff Cowen, the bistate planning agency’s community liaison.

Project Manager David Antonucci said the revised Villas project would be very appropriate and beneficial to the Homewood area.

“People will be very pleased to see the high quality of the project and how it improves the overall Homewood commercial environment,” Antonucci said.

Rob Weston, owner of West Shore Sports in Homewood, said he’s hopeful the timeshares would attract more families to the area, improving Homewood’s economy and general sense of community.

Project opponents have expressed concerns over parking plans, the density of the proposed construction, lake views from Highway 89, traffic congestion and public access to the lake, said Ron Grassi of Friends of the West Shore, an informal opposition group.

Topol and his associates addressed those concerns and reached a compromise that all parties appeared last week to agree on.

In the revised plan, parking areas will be expanded with underground heating to assist snow removal. All overhead utilities will be moved underground. The boat racks in the High and Dry Marina, which some critics have called an eyesore ” will be moved farther back from the lake and heavily screened to blend in with the surroundings. Finally, the developer agreed to tear down the Homewood Marina Lodge.

Topol promised to contribute $100,000 to the Homewood Home Owners Association for development of public beach access in the Homewood area.

Topol will also construct a boat-washing facility, potentially the first at Lake Tahoe, to protect the lake against invasive aquatic species, a growing concern in the basin since the arrival of foreign mussels in Lake Mead, said Julie Regan, the planning agency’s spokeswoman.

“I am extremely pleased that the project passed.” said Lolly Kupec, a West Shore home and business owner. “I think that Nate Topol went above and beyond.”

Lorie Cress, a Homewood homeowner who has been an active opponent of Topol’s project, said that even though she’d prefer single-family residences to timeshare units, she feels the long-running debate accomplished something.

“It was a two-year battle and I feel that everybody was ready for it to end,” she said.

More than 150 supporters and opponents attended the planning agency meeting last week to hear the resolution of the marathon dispute.

“People who did get involved truly influenced the final outcome,” said Regan. “Without the public participation, it could’ve come out very differently and we may not have achieved some of the environmental and community benefits.”

Topol’s next step is to obtain permission from Placer County before beginning construction.