Homewood plans GREEN RESORT | SierraSun.com

Homewood plans GREEN RESORT

Ryan Salm/ Sierra Sun

The West Shore ski resort most known for its family-friendly slopes is working with local agencies to ensure environmental and community issues remain at the forefront of its business plan.Homewood Mountain Resort has hired the Sierra Business Council a nonprofit working to secure the social, environmental and financial health of the Sierra Nevada to develop a program to make the resort a leader in sustainable development.Our bigger task that weve been assigned is really to organize and put together their sustainability program, said Program Director Nikki Riley of the Sierra Business Council. … Weve been asked by JMA to make Homewood the greenest ski resort in the Western states.

JMA Ventures purchased Homewood Mountain Resort last June and, while plans for the development are still vague, the resort will initially build a modest development at the foot of the hill, said Rick Brown, the companys vice president.The San Francisco-based company hopes to build a retail and lodging project and upgrade the ski lifts while keeping the mountains uncrowded local character. Development may include a market, hardware store, fractionally owned condominiums and child-care facilities, Brown said.Were looking at all the options, environmentally, to do this correctly from the onset, said Brown. … We have world-class consultants that were consulting with to do everything sustainable and green.The business council will serve as a liaison between the resort and the public, and will host meetings to keep West Shore communities informed about the resorts redevelopment plans.Community workshops will likely begin around August, Riley said, to assure the citizens the levels of impact will be less than it is today.Brown and JMA Ventures owner Art Chapman will begin meeting with Homewood-area homeowner associations by the end of the month, Brown said.Were going out to the community to do this outreach process to get feedback from them, then well have a better idea of what direction this is heading, Brown said.

Sierra Business Council is studying how the resort can become as sustainable as possible, Riley said. The nonprofit is investigating alternative energy options and talking about implementing a biomass facility.Then we would be able to use that energy to offset our energy footprint within the resort, said Riley.Further assessment is needed to determine whether solar-, wind- or hydro-powered energy sources would be the most effective, she said. The firm also is looking to provide employees with optimal health-care benefits, transportation options and affordable housing.I know Homewood is on board to provide child care for their employees, Riley said.Resort representatives say they are dedicated to preserving Homewood Mountains reputation as a family-owned and locally oriented resort. The ski hill will not be expanded and ticket sales will likely be capped, said Brown.Its less about the marketability and more about because its the right thing to do, Riley added. … Were looking to lessen our impact and minimize the footprint that Homewood makes.Resort plans are still in the earliest stages, she said, and the next step will be to include the community in conversations about the development.Because were raising the bar so high theres going to be a lot of back and forth [discussion], seeing what makes the most sense, Riley said.

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