Debate continues over Homewood development | SierraSun.com

Debate continues over Homewood development

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

The fate of a proposed condominium timeshare development in Homewood was again undecided after questions arose during a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board meeting Wednesday.

Randall Faccinto, attorney for Nate Topol, who is proposing the Villas at Harborside project, requested a continuance after a three-hour discussion on the project.

Topol wants to build nine three-bedroom homes on three adjoining lakefront lots across the street from Homewood Mountain Resort. Two lots on either side of the proposed project already have homes on them. The proposed, fractional ownership, 1,800-square-foot homes would have four people sharing ownership of the house. Each owner would have use of the unit for 13 weeks annually.

The board was to vote on transferring development rights of tourist accommodation units ” essentially rooms for rent ” from Topol’s Marina Lodge to the Villas project site. But questions arose over a 1995 settlement agreement between Topol and TRPA, which states the Villas property would remain residential and not offer tourist accommodations. TRPA board member Jerry Waldie said TRPA’s attorney in 2003 changed the agreement to allow tourist rentals, but that Homewood residents were not notified of the change.

“Somehow, we should have given public notice that this document was being amended in someway,” Waldie said. “I can understand why folks would have a problem with the project.”

In the middle of the public comment period, Faccinto offered the continuance.

“What we’re hearing is there is a real confusion of how we got here today,” Faccinto said. “We would like an opportunity to develop evidence to show noticing.”

Nearly 100 people were at the meeting, with 13 neighbors voicing opposition to the project and eight business owners, residents and Topol’s employees speaking in favor of the proposed development.

Those opposed to the project cited concerns over parking, traffic, public access to the lake, and view corridors. Some members of the public and the board also questioned Topol’s history of compliance with TRPA standards, including illegal buoys.

“We never heard timeshares would be allowed,” one Homewood resident told the board. “This developer has not been compliant in the past and we don’t know if he will be in the future.”

Business owners said they believed the project would be better than Topol’s original plan of building three residential homes, because timeshare units would bring in a number of families year-round to the West Shore, which would help the economy, they said.

“As a small business owner, I know how difficult it is to survive on the West Shore,” Kay Williams said. “How do we keep a viable economic base? I think we all have to come together.”

Board member Bruce Kranz, who is also the District 5 Placer County Board Supervisor, said he would like a letter from the North Tahoe Fire Protection District attesting the Villas parking lot is big enough for emergency vehicles. He also wanted to know if the lot was accessible to the disabled. A number of board members said they wanted time to review the 1995 agreement.

The TRPA governing board approved 11 to 3 the continuance until their January 24 North Shore meeting.

The project was approved by the Placer County Planning Commission last year, but that decision was appealed by Homewood resident Jan Echlin. Last December, the Board of Supervisors heard the appeal and ordered the project back to the North Tahoe Regional Planning Advisory Council meeting so the public would have another chance to comment on the project.