Homewood presents water quality, development projects | SierraSun.com

Homewood presents water quality, development projects

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

Homewood Mountain Resort touted its environmental work and presented its plans for a new base village at a North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council meeting earlier this month.

The resort, which was purchased by Bay Area real estate group JMA Ventures in 2006, has taken on both ambitious water quality projects and resort expansion plans since the purchase.

And while the environmental work is moving ahead well, the plans for a new base village are still navigating the planning process at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County.

One of the main environmental concerns the resort is currently addressing is water runoff. Being so close to Lake Tahoe, Tirman believes the reduction of sediment yield is a big concern.

“There are miles and miles of old logging roads and trails that contribute to runoff in the lake,” said Tirman.

Taking steps to prevent water runoff on hard-pack dirt roads and trails, JMA Ventures has been working to increase soil water holding capacity through tilling soil, incorporating diverse shrub plants and native grass, and reestablishing the natural slope drainage patterns of the mountain.

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As a result of restoring over 175,000 square feet of eroding dirt roads, there has been a total annual sediment reduction of 400 metric tons, a 97 percent reduction in sediment yield based on Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load, a program to restore Lake Tahoe’s clarity.

The Homewood project will also be working with Caltrans and Placer County to help commonly collect, treat and recycle water runoff on the highway.

“It’s one of those rare instances where the private and public sectors cooperate to get things done,” said Tirman,

In addition to runoff regulation, the project continues a fuel reduction program that began in 2006, removing small trees and shrubs vegetation and preparing the forest floor for chipping and burning. Costing approximately $500,000 through August, 2008, the project has treated 435 plus acres of forest area, hoping to have treated all 1,200 acres of the mountain by next year.

Homewood plans to add a new base village along Highway 89 and new buildings at the south base, finding inspiration in the grand lodges of the national parks and buildings like the Tahoe Tavern.

“We want architecture that feels like it has been there for 75 years,” said Tirman.

The proposed expansion includes plans for the north side of the resort to add a hotel with up to 75 rooms, 56 condos, 12 workforce housing apartments, and 25,000 square feet of retail, while the south side could grow by up to 99 condominiums and 11 homes, according to a previous meeting before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Advisory Planning Commission.

With all of the proposed construction plans, many Homewood residents are worried the project will overstep the boundaries of the community.

Ann Bryant, a 23-year Homewood resident, believes the ski resort needs improvements to be able to sustain itself, however, she is concerned with the project’s size.

“The number of proposed buildings is just going to overshadow our little village,” said Bryant. “I think it needs to be scaled down.”

Bryant, a member of the Homewood Homeowners Association Board of Directors, believes the construction plans should be more practical, utilizing buildings that already exist and have been for sale for quite some time.

“We already have lots of buildings for sale in Homewood,” said Bryant. “Why are they building new things now?”

From here, ongoing environmental analysis under the jurisdiction of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County will be published in an EIR/EIS, Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement, to be presented to the public, Planning Agency, and Placer County Planning Commission for final review, certification and approval. Assuming all goes according to plan, permits for construction should be obtained by 2010, phased construction beginning that summer.

While the Homewood project waits for approval to break ground, minimal environmental impact is on the minds of planners, the project participating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a new pilot program created by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure this a green project,” said Tirman.