Sierra Watch: Martis West vote was ‘illegal, and we’re committed to take action’ | SierraSun.com

Sierra Watch: Martis West vote was ‘illegal, and we’re committed to take action’

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The plan to develop the west parcel of Martis Valley, adjacent to Northstar, and add 760 new homes to the region will move forward after decision makers spent months hearing arguments on either side of the proposal.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to give the Martis Valley West Specific Plan final approval. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery voted against.

“We are pleased that the Placer County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Martis Valley West Project,” said Blake Riva in a statement from Mountainside Partners, the developer behind the project. “The Board recognized the Martis Valley West Project provides substantial benefits to the community.”

According to a statement from the county, “The board’s approval was based, in part, in its finding that the proposed project’s significant and unavoidable impacts were outweighed by its benefits. In particular, the board felt the conservation component of the project — the preservation of 6,376 acres in the east parcel — outweighed the impacts.”

The plan proposes a transfer of development rights, to move the 1,360 maximum allowable units from the land east of Highway 267 to the west side in an effort to preserve the eastern parcel. Mountainside Partners also applied for the rights to build 600 fewer homes than the east parcel was originally zoned for.

The Trust of Public Land and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the groups who were considering a plan to raise funds to purchase the east parcel to protect it from future development, presented the supervisors with a letter on Tuesday that explained no deal existed at that time.

Supervisor Kurt Uhler said during the meeting that just because the conservation groups hadn’t reached a deal doesn’t mean the land would be unprotected or unavailable for public use, because a conservation easement with the county would limit what the land can be used for even if no sale is made.

As the Sun previously reported, Truckee Donner Land Trust Executive Director Perry Norris said that conservation easements can be lenient or restrictive — it just depends. A conservation easement on the east parcel does not necessarily equate to its protection and availability for public use.

“Today’s approval was a vote against everything we love about Martis Valley and North Lake Tahoe,” said Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Mooers in a statement. “It was also illegal, and we’re committed to take action to defend Tahoe’s incredible scenery and the clarity of the lake itself.”

Those opposed to the development have 30 days to file a lawsuit against the county, according to Sierra Watch, should they choose to continue fighting the project and the adequacy of its associated environmental impact report.