Flood of Kings Beach comments delays plan | SierraSun.com

Flood of Kings Beach comments delays plan

Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoPedestrians make their way across the sidewalk on Highway 28 in Kings Beach. Pedestrian safety is one of the top priorities of the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement project. Planners have been deluged by comments, which will delay the project's eventual approval.

The need to respond to extensive public comments on the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project’s environmental review will delay approval of the long-awaited renovation of the North Shore community.

Officials were hoping to see the project approved this month, said Placer County Director of Public Works Ken Grehm.

Instead, planners now anticipate submitting the final environmental report and a recommendation for a project alternative to governing agencies for approval by early next year.

The Placer County Department of Public Works compiled a 250-page response to 500 pages worth of public comments submitted to the draft environmental impact report.

The Placer County department released its response to public comments on July 31 to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Caltrans, which is reviewing the document on behalf of the Federal Highways Administration.

Grehm said he expects to receive direction from the Basin’s bistate planning agency and Caltrans by the end of November.

Public Works will then incorporate public comment and agency responses into a final environmental document, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Public Works plans to release its recommendation on a preferred Commercial Core alternative ” designating roundabouts or traffic lights, three or four lanes, as well as sidewalk width ” once it completes the final environmental document.

Grehm said the recommendation will be based on all the input and information that has been collected and approved by all agencies involved.

“As soon as we have a final document that everybody is OK with, we will release our recommendation,” Grehm said.

The Core Improvement Project will then be submitted for final approval to the Placer County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board and Advisory Planning Commission, Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration.

Each agency will be asked to approve the final environmental document, as well as select an alternative.

And every agency must agree to the same project alternative, Grehm said, otherwise no project will be approved.

“[The decision] really comes down to what’s the vision for Kings Beach? What are people willing to give up for what they want? It’s going to be a hard decision to make,” Grehm said.

Prior public discussion and lengthy public comments have likely addressed most doubts about the project, Grehm said. He added that he is hopeful answers exist to every question that was submitted, although the answer may not be what people want to hear.

“The good news is that there’s nothing being hidden,” Grehm said. “It was out there for the whole world to see.”

In the meantime, Public Works will update Placer County supervisors about the project status at their October meeting. No action is scheduled to be taken.

The project’s environmental document must be approved, at the latest, by spring 2008, Grehm said. Otherwise, funding will be put at risk.

The first funding deadline is June 2008.

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