My Turn: Big decisions ahead regarding Homewood project
Many residents on the West Shore have concerns with the new development proposed for Homewood Mountain Resort. Friends of the West Shore, a local nonprofit, held monthly meetings from spring to fall in 2009 with residents attending and voicing their thoughts to preserve our small rural towns and mountain lakes, creeks and shores. Our final meeting was a consensus to develop a community vision for the West Shore which was distributed to the TRPA in December 2009.
Friends of the West Shore is apprehensive about Homewoodand#8217;s development plans proposed for both the north and south bases, including mid-mountain lodge. We support a revitalized ski resort, but since Homewood would be the largest high rise development in Placer County on Lake Tahoe, careful review and consideration is needed on this project. On the West Shore, although not a County Redevelopment area, we welcome private redevelopment of blight. As the TRPA Community Enhancement Program states, growth should reduce the amount of impervious surface or asphalted areas by increasing mixed use in the small town centers. Will a matrix be available comparing the CEP goals to Homewoodand#8217;s proposals? Sprawl is development outside the zoned areas of commercial, tourist accommodation and residential areas determined by Planned Area Statements for the West Shore. Sprawl is not desirable, especially on vacant lands within Mt. Ellis watersheds.
Development must be to the size and scale of the neighborhood. Are the proposed plans compatible with present residential areas within Homewood or the West Shore? Will residents be overwhelmed by this proposed development? Presently, Homewood is a and#8220;familyand#8221; resort. There are many issues to consider, such as how much vacant land should be developed, traffic and water usage impacts, the need for adequate parking and fire evacuation plans. What are the impacts to Lake Tahoeand#8217;s water quality, to the air quality, noise, fisheries, starry nights and other environmental thresholds? Who is responsible to preserve our natural resources, including our watersheds, but also our quality of life on the West Shore? The residents of the West Shore need to protect these values for current and future generations.
Letand#8217;s and#8220;Keep the West Shore the Best Shoreand#8221; and maintain the rustic quality of our communities with revitalized town centers. This spring/summer, a combined environmental report will be issued which encompasses a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on behalf of TRPA and a Draft Environmental Impact Report on behalf of Placer County. The report will be available to the public and there will be a schedule of meetings during the Public Comment Period. If necessary, Friends of the West Shore may retain consultants on the most high profile issues to provide us with an alternative response to the project. Please attend meetings and voice or write your issues and concerns to the TRPA and Placer County.
Susan R. Gearhart is President Friends of the West Shore.