Squaw Valley expansion: Final environmental report bumped to spring
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — The final environmental document for the controversial development proposal at Squaw Valley is anticipated to be released this spring.
This is later than the most recent expected release date of late 2015 or January 2016 for the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan’s final Environmental Impact Report due to the numerous comments received on the draft report, said Paul Thompson, assistant director for Placer County’s Community Development Resource Agency.
More than 350 comment letters were submitted on the plan’s draft EIR by the July 17, 2015, deadline, many of which were critical and raised various concerns including traffic and safety, visual impacts and water supply with the proposed project.
The draft EIR, which was released May 18 for a 60-day public review and comment period, identified 23 “significant and unavoidable” environmental impacts associated with the proposed village expansion.
The final EIR, which legally must provide a written response to all comments received on the draft EIR, is anticipated to be released for public review in April, Thompson told the Placer County Board of Supervisors, who met Tuesday in Kings Beach.
This overview was part of a larger Tahoe area projects update presented to the board by Thompson. While no board action was taken, commissioners did hear public comment.
“(Some local businesses) see this development as posing a threat to quality of life and commercial liability, frankly, for areas like Tahoe City and Kings Beach,” said Isaac Silverman, a staff attorney for Sierra Watch, which has been vocal in its opposition to the project. “We’ve seen individuals continue to express opposition. More than 1,600 have now signed onto our petition to Keep Squaw True, with more every day.
“We look forward to working with Placer County Board of Supervisors in coming forward with a plan for Squaw Valley that makes sense not just for that area, but for all the Tahoe/Truckee region.”
Sierra Watch was the only group or person to comment on the Squaw Valley project at Tuesday’s meeting.
Looking ahead, once the final EIR is released, the California Environmental Quality Act requires that its circulation be for 10 days, after which time, public hearings can be held to consider the project, Thompson said in a follow-up interview.
First, the Placer County Planning Commission will review the environmental document and specific plan to provide the county’s Board of Supervisors a recommendation, Thompson said.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors will then take action to either approve, deny or direct the village expansion project be modified at a public hearing that is anticipated to occur this summer, he said.
As it stands now, the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan outlines construction of up to 850 lodging units, with a maximum of 1,493 bedrooms; nearly 300,000 square feet of tourist-serving commercial space, while decommissioning about 92,000 square feet of existing commercial space; and a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp for indoor and outdoor recreation.
Additional parking spaces, construction of up to 50 employee housing units and restoration of Squaw Creek also are proposed.
Based on those specs, project buildout is estimated to take 25 years in various phases, which factors in basin construction regulations and market cycles.
With this project, Squaw hopes to develop a year-round destination resort that is on par with other world-class North American ski destinations.