Northstar Highlands approved |

Northstar Highlands approved

With almost no discussion and little controversy, East West Partners received approval on Wednesday to nearly double the amount of residential units at Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort.

The 15 to 20-year Highlands plan, which will add 1,450 condominium and townhome units to the resort, was approved by the Placer County planning commission, the final go-ahead needed for the project unless it is appealed to the county board of supervisors.

The approval authorizes the broad plan for the area and the first 252 units. The following phases will come back to the county for approval.

Environmental groups Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation Foundation (MAPF), who have criticized, appealed and sued Martis Valley planning decisions, said that they had reached a tentative agreement with East West Partners that satisfied their concerns about the Highlands project.

The compromise, which has yet to be finalized, is a transfer fee agreement that will generate money to buy or conserve developable land in the valley, said Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Mooers.

Whit Manley, attorney for East West Partners, called Sierra Watch and MAPF “very reasonable negotiating partners.”

“We’ve had a very good dialogue with them,” said Manley. “We have an agreement in principle.”

Mooers said that agreement would likely be finalized within the next couple of days.

The Town of Truckee and Northstar applauded East West’s inclusion of 96 units of employee housing in the project.

“We are very excited about being on the threshold of providing something new and exciting for our employees,” Northstar General Manager Tim Silva said.

The only controversy came when Washoe Indian Tribe spokesman Tim Seward said that conditions in the project were not sufficient to protect prehistoric artifacts on the site.

The developer and the county quickly came up with a few changes to conditions to require avoiding prehistoric sites where feasible during construction.

The Highlands project is an integral part of the vision of East West Partners and Northstar owner Booth Creek to shift the ski resort from a primarily day-skier destination to a resort that attracts vacationers for longer periods.

“Highlands is that last piece that helps make Northstar a destination resort,” said Aaron Revere of East West Partners.

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