Donner Summit residents look to the future |

Donner Summit residents look to the future

Concerned Donner Summit residents gathered on Saturday to address future development and to brainstorm ideas for a community plan.

Close to 80 people from Placer and Nevada counties attended the forum to discuss issues pertaining to the future of the Summit.

“This is a practice round for us,” said Daniel Wexler, executive director of the Donner Summit Area Association.

The DSAA and the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association hosted the forum with local nonprofits, businesses and homeowners to address regional development planning and to gather public input for future updates to general plans in both counties.

Planners from Nevada and Placer Counties, however, were a no-show at the meeting, so Steve Frisch, vice president of programs for the Sierra Business Council, stepped in to talk about the general plan process.

Nevada County doesn’t have a community plan element within the general plan, nor does the Summit, Frisch said. Focusing on certain mandatory principles and objectives is important in order to generate a long-term general plan, he said.

“In short, the general plan is the Constitution,” Frisch said.

The Summit poses a unique situation, Frisch said, as a community plan will cross county lines. County planners from both jurisdictions will need to work hand-in-hand in order to come up with a community plan, he said.

Leading the high-tech electronic meeting, Serene Lakes resident Heidi Kolbe divided people into discussion groups. With computers at every table, the technology “allows everyone to talk at the same time,” Kolbe said.

Specific topics of interest to residents included growth, transportation, infrastructure, and recreation. Serene Lakes homeowners voiced concerns about “smart growth” that is appropriate for each property site and takes into account an adequate water supply and sewer capacity for the area.

For residents interested in the development of Royal Gorge, preserving open space and ensuring access to public lands was a concern.

While some homeowners said they wanted technological advances like high-speed Internet, cable, and improved cell phone service, but also to preserve the Summit’s culture and history.

To further the planning process, Wexler said, a planning committee of residents and organization representatives needs to be formed.

Another Summit forum will likely be scheduled within the next few months.

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