Neighbors concerned about Zephyr Cove affordable housing project
A proposed affordable housing project in Zephyr Cove is getting push back from neighboring homeowners.
Following the publication of a story on June 16 detailing the plans for 420 units of affordable housing at the site of the now-closed Kingsbury Middle School, local agencies and the newspaper received a number of calls from residents who feared the project had gone forward without public input.
“In the last year the Tribune has published two articles on project 420, both of which paint a rosy picture of this development. Has anyone thought of the negative impact an urban-sized low-income project will have to the environment and a small community in Zephyr?” wrote one resident, who did not want to be named due to his job as a civil servant, in an email to the Tribune.
The president of the homeowners association of Lake Village, a 326-town home resort community neighboring the proposed project site, voiced concerns as well.
“Of course our homeowners have concerns about the Kingsbury Middle School property. It is a large piece of relatively undeveloped land that has provided our residents recreational opportunities and access to Forest Service lands for many years,” Owen Carter said.
Carter noted that the HOA has been awaiting submission of the proposed project plans through Douglas County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), and will make comments on the project at that time.
But before the project can move forward, the area needs to rezoned for residential use.
Mimi Moss, director of community development for Douglas County, said the county has been working on that process with Patrick Taylor, CEO of the development and management company Lake Parkway LLC.
“We’ve been working with him for the last year or so and trying to finalize a contract with an environmental group to perform an environmental analysis of going from the school use to an affordable housing residential use,” explained Moss.
This new use would need to be incorporated into the draft Tahoe-Douglas County Plan that would then need approval from the TRPA and the county commissioners. The public would have opportunities to provide input during that process.
When (or if) that rezoning goes through, the project itself would then undergo an environmental review.
“A multifamily housing project along the extent of what Mr. Taylor is envisioning would most likely require an extensive environmental review to look at community impacts, environmental impacts, traffic impacts, etc.,” explained Tom Lotshaw, who is the TRPA public information officer.
Though Taylor has yet to submit documents for the plan approval to TRPA and Douglas County, he said the process is well underway.
“I have no doubt in my mind that what the environmental analysis will show is that it will cut the carbon emissions down immensely when people who work here don’t have to drive over Kingsbury or down to Reno or Carson,” said Taylor. “There’s going to be bumps in the road just like any project, but I’m confident that this project will get done.”
One of those hurdles is the permitting process, so Taylor said the new goal for breaking ground is May 2019, not 2018.
As for what he describes as a “NIMBY [Not In My Backyard]” attitude on the low-income project in Zephyr Cove, “Quite frankly, it’s selfish,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to give back to the community to provide workforce housing, and we have these people who say ‘I already have my house and I don’t want them to have their house.’”
Taylor also noted that the project would not interfere with Lake Village homeowners’ access to Forest Service lands for recreation, nor would it allow traffic to cut through Lake Village roads to the new housing units.
The Nevada-side of the South Shore currently has three affordable housing complexes — Lake Vista I, Lake Vista II and Meadowbrook. The developments are located in Stateline and contain a total of 110 units.