East West, Sierra Watch partner for open space | SierraSun.com

East West, Sierra Watch partner for open space

developer East West Partners in an effort to preserve open space in the Martis Valley.

The agreement, recently signed by both parties, will designate a half percentage point of every real estate sale in the Northstar Village for purchasing and preserving open space in the Martis Valley. The transfer fee is expected to generate as much as $5 million in the next 20 years.

“Most people expect Sierra Watch and East West Partners to be on opposite sides of the fence,” said Roger Lessman, managing partner of East West’s Tahoe

operations in a press release, “but in this case, we agree on the need to preserve open space in the Martis Valley.”

Sierra Watch, along with Mountain Area Preservation Foundation and the League to Save Lake Tahoe, has vowed to sue Placer County’s Martis Valley Community Plan, which includes significant development plans by East West Partners.

Under the signed agreement, Sierra Watch still plans to sue the community plan but will give its approval to the Northstar Village portion of development in Martis Valley, which was proposed under an earlier community development plan.

“We are still very concerned about the total amount of development in the Martis Valley,” said David Welch, president of Sierra Watch. “This agreement with East West Partners is a significant first step in providing some of the funding necessary to achieve [the permanent protection of priority conservation areas].”

While Welch called the agreement a “precedent-setting step,” he tempered his optimism with doubt over whether the transfer fees would accumulate quickly enough to buy priority land before it is developed. However, he praised East West’s Northstar Village project and their willingness to work with conservationists.

“My view is – hats off to them,” Welch said, “If we are going to have more development in the Martis Valley, this is the type of project we support.”

Lessman said that East West’s decision to partner with Sierra Watch was not affected by the environmental group’s opposition to the Martis Valley Community Plan. He said that it was another effort in a string of partnerships that East West has developed with land trusts and other conservation groups.

For more information on the Martis Valley Community Plan, check out the Sierra Sun archives at http://www.sierrasun.com.

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