Environmental study will be done for Olympic Valley town proposal | SierraSun.com

Environmental study will be done for Olympic Valley town proposal

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — An Environmental Impact Report will be prepared for the Olympic Valley incorporation proposal — a level of study that town proponents opposed and opponents favored.

"Based on advice from our environmental consultants, we felt it best to proceed with an EIR to have the most legally defensive position and to prevent further delays," said Kristina Berry, executive officer of Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission.

Comments on the scope and content of the study will be accepted until 5 p.m., Nov. 25. They should be sent to Berry at Placer County LAFCO, 110 Maple Street, Auburn, CA 95603, or kberry@placer.ca.gov.

Another opportunity for agencies and the public to provide comments will be during a California Environmental Quality Act scoping meeting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the Squaw Valley Public Service District Community Room at 305 Squaw Valley Road in Olympic Valley.

LAFCO's on-call environmental consultant, Raney Planning and Management, will prepare the scope of work, but not the draft EIR, Berry said. Instead, that will go to bid likely toward the end of this month.

An EIR cost estimate won't be known until bids are received, Berry said. It's an expense Incorporate Olympic Valley, the grassroots group pushing for incorporation, will need to cover before a contract can be signed and work can begin.

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According to LAFCO, the following topics should be addressed in the EIR: land use and planning, public services, utilities, climate change, cumulative impacts and project alternatives, including a no project alternative.

LEVEL OF STUDY NEEDED?

Whether or not an environmental study is needed for the proposed town of Olympic Valley has been debated on both sides.

In an April 4 letter to Berry, Whitman Manley, a senior partner with Sacramento-based Remy Moose Manley — on behalf Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, which has opposed the town's creation — states being in favor of an EIR.

"Public statements made by the IOV proponents make clear that incorporation would inevitably lead to changes in land use policy and land use itself by providing for significantly different development than might otherwise occur under existing county land use policies," the letter states. "LAFCO must therefore consider the potentially significant adverse effects of incorporation even if that analysis is programmatic in nature."

In a May 1 response, Michael Colantuono, with Penn Valley-based Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC — on behalf of IOV — disagrees.

"The proposed incorporation is not a project under the California Environmental Quality Act. … The proposed incorporation will not cause any direct or indirect physical impacts on the environment because the incorporation is solely a change in the community's administration and political leadership," he said. "The intent in creating a new town is to enable local control over revenues, expenditures, services and land use regulation. The proposed incorporation does not require or authorize any new construction, expand services or extend them to new territory."

Citing an Office of Planning and Research document on incorporation, LAFCO states that incorporations are projects subject to CEQA and require environmental review.

The EIR will be used by LAFCO in its decision-making process on the Olympic Valley incorporation proposal, Berry said.