Developer: Residential units still possible above North Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Developer: Residential units still possible above North Tahoe

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — While the Lake Tahoe component of the original Martis Valley West project was excluded earlier this year, options are being studied — including the potential for residential units — on the same area of basin land, an official said.

Martis Valley West aims to shift a development designation from a large parcel east of Highway 267 to the west for conservation purposes.

Originally, the project proposed 760 west parcel residential units, 112 of which were planned within the Tahoe Basin as part of a 30-acre cluster development between Northstar California and the Fiberboard Freeway.

Yet, in response to criticism, the basin component was pulled in late January, with all 760 units and associated and commercial development to be clustered in Martis Valley.

"Eliminating the basin component from the Martis Valley West Parcel Project greatly enhances our chances of success for the conservation objective," said Blake Riva, senior partner with the project developer, Mountainside Partners. "If and when we pursue a project on the basin land, it will be analyzed on a standalone basis, but will not be linked to the Martis Valley West Parcel Project."

NEW BASIN OPTIONS?

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Among options is a "project similar to what was initially contemplated on the basin land, which was 112 units," Riva said, something that has regional conservation groups concerned considering that land area's proximity to Lake Tahoe ridge lines.

"The basin portion of the Martis parcel is not an appropriate place for high-intensity development," said Darcie Goodman Collins, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. "The League hasn't seen any new proposals, but we'll continue to keep an eye on the situation to ensure that any high-intensity development ideas have difficulty gaining traction."

Another option is a campground alternative, which would offer tent camping, campers and eco-shelters, Riva said.

A campground is permissible under the TRPA Regional Plan Update; a maximum of 832 campsites could be allowed on the 104-acre basin property. If this option is pursued, the proposal would be for fewer campsites than 832; the exact number is to be determined, he said.

On Monday, Riva said no application has been submitted for a project on Tahoe Basin land.

"Until such time an application is submitted for a proposed project on the basin land, these are all hypothetical scenarios," he said.

Any proposal would be separate from the Martis Valley West project, Riva reiterated, needing review by both the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County.

"Any proposed project in Tahoe is subject to a very thorough review process," he said. "We expect the community will have an opportunity to share their thoughts as it relates to any project."

SEPARATING MARTIS VALLEY WEST

Ann Nichols, president of the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance, has been critical of project plans to develop within the basin.

"They (Mountainside Partners) are improperly segmenting the two projects to minimize the environmental impacts analysis and review," she said. "… (The basin component) was not removed; it was suspended."

As for the revised Martis Valley West project, Placer County is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Report, with comments being accepted until 5 p.m., March 30.

A draft EIR is anticipated to be issued this summer, Riva said.

"We're going to focus our energy on processing the Martis Valley West Parcel Project, and at some point in the future we may pursue a project on basin land," he said. "… We found that the basin land was becoming a distraction to achieving our collective goal of conservation in Martis Valley."

In 2013, conservation groups Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation along with then-East West Partners and landowner Sierra Pacific Industries finalized an agreement to protect 6,376 acres east of Highway 267 into permanent conservation. Thereby, possibly creating more than 50,000 continuous acres of open space between the valley and the Mt. Rose Wilderness Area.