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New lodge, homes planned at Serene Lakes

JOHN A. BAYLESS

A new lodge and subdivision could be in the works soon to replace the former Serene Lakes Lodge in Soda Springs, which was torn down in July.

The Placer County Environmental Review Committee recently determined the project planned by Ice Lakes Lodge Inc. will have no significant effect upon the environment, and prepared a proposed mitigated negative declaration to be filed with the Placer County Clerk’s Office.

Placer County Associate Planner Paul Thompson said the old lodge has already been demolished, and the new 18,000-square-foot lodge is planned in its place. The new lodge will have 26 rooms and a restaurant, and a single-family subdivision of eight residential lots is planned in the immediate vicinity.

Approvals still needed

Thompson said the project must still go through the public hearing process and receive a conditional use permit from the Placer County Planning Commission, in addition to being cleared by the Placer County Board of Supervisors. Approval of the board of supervisors is required because the county’s general plan must be modified so the lodge could be built.

Currently the land is zoned as a forestry development reserve, with an understood potential for future development, Thompson explained. He said the county’s general plan shows the area as medium density residential, which is in line with the plans for the eight-lot subdivision. However, the site of the lodge itself will require a general plan zoning amendment to allow for the resort.

“They’re replacing the lodge and it is getting a little bigger,” Thompson said. “On one side of the old lodge there were nine cabins. They wiped out those and will put in single-family homes. On the other side of the lodge was an RV park, which would also be replaced with homes.”

Historical connection

Matt Williams of Ice Lakes Lodge Inc. said the new lodge will feature history displays on the ice harvesting industry, which thrived in the Sierra until around the turn of the century.

“I think the ice harvesting industry is of big interest to the area and it’s something people should learn about,” Williams said. “We’ll research where they did it and have maps on display.” He said Summit Ice Co. operated in the Serene Lakes area.

Williams said the planned three-story lodge will have a rec room, sauna and bedrooms on the basement floor. Each room will have a door opening out on to the beach.

The ground level will be the main floor with a valet parking entrance, a restaurant

and bar and a banquet function room, all with a lake view. It would also have a central fireplace in the middle of the lobby. Third floor rooms will open onto the central area of the lodge and will also have a lake view, except for a few rooms on the road side of the lodge.

The lower portion of the structure will be built of stone, with the upper story of wood. In order to maintain the lake view from each lakefront room, deck railing will be made of quarter-inch tempered glass.

“We used a very basic type of architecture because of the snow loads involved,” Williams said. “It’s essentially a Bavarian chalet type of structure.”

Williams said the plans should be submitted to the Placer County Building Department by the end of the month, and that once permit and financing details are finalized he expects to begin construction in June. Architect Michael Mason of Truckee is working on the project.

Williams hopes to create a lodge which will continue the tradition of the old Serene Lakes Lodge, drawing visitors from Soda Springs, Truckee, Sacramento and the Bay Area.

“I’ve been surprised to hear how many people from Truckee used to frequent the Serene Lakes Lodge,” Williams said. “In my work around town here, people keep asking me when it’s coming back.”

He formed a corporation to build the lodge and develop the residential subdivision, and has shareholders, all of whom are property owners from the Serene Lakes area. Williams said the decision to develop the land around the lodge for residences was made because no one wanted an RV park there again, or wanted to have a high-density development like condos.

“We figured the sale of lots over at the RV park site would help offset the cost of the project,” Williams explained. He said four lots were divided out of the old RV section, with four more divided out of the area where the lodge’s cabins used to sit. All of the lots have a lake view, and four of them are already reserved.

Williams said the demolition of the old Serene Lakes Lodge, cabins and RV park was handled by contractor Al Pombo of Truckee.

“He put up hay bales all along the lake front to protect the water,” Williams said. “He did a very good job. I was impressed with how clean and quick his work was. He tore down the lodge, nine cabins and the restroom area in five days. It was all gone. He didn’t even leave a piece of paper on top of the ground.”


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