Dyer mountain development goes bankrupt
April 7, 2008
Conservation groups fighting a ski, golf and home resort in the northern Sierra are waiting to see what will happen now that the developers have filed for bankruptcy.
Located near Lake Almanor in Lassen County, the Dyer Mountain development’s plans included 4,000 homes, three golf courses and a ski resort on 7,000 acres.
Financial troubles put Dyer Mountain Associates into foreclosure in January, although the company successfully stalled a sale repeatedly.
“I think this is their last gasp,” said Steve Robinson, president and executive officer of Mountain Meadows Conservancy, an opponent of the project. “This is just another tactic to get more time.”
Filing for bankruptcy puts everything on hold, including foreclosure, Robinson said.
For Mountain Meadows Conservancy, Sierra Watch and the Sierra Club ” the three groups that have lawsuits pending against the development ” the bankruptcy puts conservation efforts on hold as well, Robinson said.
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“Everything is slowed down, and this puts us in limbo,” he said.
From the perspective of Lassen County, the bankruptcy doesn’t change things much, said Joe Bertotti, assistant community development director.
“The project is essentially approved, whether the present owners or new owners develop it doesn’t change much,” Bertotti said.
The project was approved by 60 percent of voters in 2000, he said.
Lassen County Supervisor Robert Pyle said he thinks about the same number of people support the project today.
If the project is able to move forward, it would be good for the economy.
“Any development that size creates jobs for the people an d income for the county,” Pyle said.
But Dyer Mountain Associates’ financial situation is encouraging, said Peter Van Zant, field director of Sierra Watch.
“From our perspective it seems the investment community is not interested in investing in a major ski resort in Northern California,” Van Zant said. “Anybody investing, or thinking of investing, in Dyer not only ends up with the bankruptcy but also the development agreement and the lawsuit.”
Van Zant said he is also hopeful that the financial problems could mean the land may be preserved.
“We might be able to pick up some, or all, of the property for public use and conservation,” Van Zant said.
Dyer Mountain Associates’ financial trouble could be a symptom of a larger declining real estate trend, said Peter Van Zant with Sierra Watch, and could have implications for other Sierra projects.
Specifically, he said Royal Gorge, a 950-unit cross country ski resort planned for Donner Summit, could be in for some of the same problems.
“That lack of interest from the investment community in Dyer Mountain also has implications for Donner Summit,” Van Zant said. “We understand that Royal Gorge has been looking for outside investors too.”
Van Zant said not only do the projects have to contend with the economic climate, but the changing global climate as well.
“These are both major ski resorts with global warming just over the horizon,” Van Zant said. “What happens at Dyer Mountain could be the future for Royal Gorge.”
But Royal Gorge Project Manager Mike Livak said he sees no parallels between Dyer Mountain and the Donner Summit project.
“I think that there are always likely to be investors in endeavors that have merit,” Livak said. “We’ve had no difficulty finding investors for Royal Gorge.”