Fate of Martis Valley West to be decided at Sept. 13 meeting | SierraSun.com

Fate of Martis Valley West to be decided at Sept. 13 meeting

The fate of the Martis Valley West Specific Plan is set to be decided by the Placer County Board of Supervisors next week at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach, but there's still concern over the project's environmental impact report.

"It's too much development that would put too many cars on our roads, and that's why we're opposed to it," said Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Mooers.

Both the Placer County Municipal Advisory Council and the Placer County Planning Commission have voted to recommend denial of the Martis Valley West Specific Plan.

At the upcoming Sept. 13 meeting the board of supervisors will hear the proposal for 760 homes on the west side of highway 267, adjacent to the Northstar Resort. The hearing is the final step in the project's approval process.

The Martis Valley (Dis)agreement

The Martis Valley West parcel came about as a trade-off between the developer, landowner and environmental groups Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation. The Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land were named as discussion partners, according to the document, but not as parties.

Recommended Stories For You

"We wanted to get the last large landscape in Martis Valley under permanent protection," said Mountain Area Preservation's Executive Director Alexis Ollar.

The goal, she said, was to preserve the 6,376 acres on the East parcel.

In fact, both sides agree that conserving the East parcel for public access is beneficial.

Mountainside Partners' Blake Riva, the developer, said it made sense to put the development next to Northstar, because that side of the highway is already developed.

But the 2013 agreement, known as the Martis Valley Opportunity Agreement, is still a major point of contention since both sides because disagree about what was included in the deal.

"The most important part of it acknowledges that the east side of the property … should not be developed and it should be protected," said Mooers.

He said that the original agreement called for a shift in land use designation, but the developers wanted the land rights.

Riva, on the other hand, said the agreement was clear about Mountainside Partners' interest in developing the West parcel in exchange for the conservation of the east parcel.

No campground after all

On Sept. 7, landowner Sierra Pacific Industries announced that it would sell the site of the proposed Brockway Campground to the U.S. Forest Service to ensure its conservation.

"People were saying they didn't like Martis Valley West because there could be a campground someday," said Riva. "Now they don't have to worry about that."

The Brockway Campground, a separate proposal from Martis Valley West, would have put 550 campsites on a 104-acre piece of land on the ridgeline and within the Tahoe Basin.

"This is a piece of property that was proposed for a sprawling housing subdivision and then for this resort campground proposal," said Mooers. "All along, Sierra Watch and others were saying it should be permanently protected, and now it is."

According to the press release from Sierra Pacific, the California Tahoe Conservancy facilitated the agreement, and the sale is expected to be complete by 2017.

Once completed, the land will reportedly become part of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the USFS — and thus, will be permanently protected from future development.

Mountainside Partners' application for the campground will reportedly remain active while the Forest Service conducts an appraisal and other pre-acquisition activities.

Nikki Riley, Development Director for Mountain Area Preservation, issued a statement to the Sierra Sun Wednesday, urging residents to "not celebrate yet," considering the campground's application isn't going away anytime soon.

"The public should be wary that if the Martis Valley West Project … is denied on September 13 by the Placer County Board of Supervisors, the Brockway Campground application will likely be kept open for further consideration," Riley wrote. "… We are staunchly opposed to the MVW project. MAP has attempted to negotiate and find common ground over the last 3 years with SPI and Mountainside, yet our input has been disregarded. We will not sit idly by while a sprawling, over scaled, environmentally destructive project receives entitlements with a thinly veiled promise of land conservation on SPI's property to the East of Highway 267…"

Similar concerns with Squaw

The California Environmental Quality Act requires all potential environmental impacts of a land use project to be evaluated before that project is approved. Mitigation measures, to limit environmental damage, must be addressed in the project's environmental impact report.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office issued a statement on Sept. 6 expressing concerns with the Martis Valley West Specific Plan's environmental impact report.

The 19-page critique of the project and its associated environmental impact report states that, "Our concerns with the EIR for the Project are similar to the concerns we expressed with regard to the EIR for the Squaw Valley Specific Plan."

Much like the Attorney General's statement on the Squaw Valley Specific Plan, the Martis Valley letter arrived days before the project's proposal before the county.

Sierra Sun Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

Live coverage next week, and more online

Sierra Sun reporter Amanda Rhoades will attend the Sept. 13 Placer supervisors meeting and will be post live social media updates throughout the day at Sierra Sun.com and through her Twitter account @akrhoades.

You can chime in as well by submitting comments on the Sun’s live social stream, or by using the hashtag #MartisWest on Instagram or Twitter. We invite you to engage with us.

More online: Visit bit.ly/2coc1O6 to read more about Wednesday’s news that the Brockway Csmpground may be off the table.