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Northstar seeks input on growth

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

With two applications for development at Northstar-at-Tahoe up for review with Placer County, planning managers at East West Partners have begun hearing both applause and concern from homeowners.

Filed with Placer County in late October, the initial project application for construction of a new village at Northstar calls for 200 new residential units, underground village parking, outdoor fire pits and restaurant seating and an ice skating rink.

“That was the initial project application,” said David Tirman, a manager with East West Partners, the development arm of Northstar. “We fully expect it will involve a full environmental impact report.”

Residents are concerned plans for development by Northstar and East West Partners may be submitted piecemeal, and the potential development of 2,200 additional residential units, which is described in Northstar’s 1971 master plan, may occur regardless of community opposition.

“The community is concerned that the proposed density of 2,200 additional units (at Northstar) is excessive and will negatively impact traffic, environment and the present quality of life at Northstar,” wrote Tony Giannoni, a Northstar Development Advisory Committee Member to the Martis Valley Planning Committee, on Nov. 17.

To unify community interest, Northstar Property Owners’ Association established the Northstar Development Advisory Committee in June 2000, a group representing the 1,400 property owners in the area.

“The idea was to allow the property owners to speak as one voice,” said committee member and full-time Northstar resident Rich Bradbury.

“The committee consists of 18 property owners throughout Northstar,” said Hank Simmons, the current chair. “We’re all meeting with a common goal of making sure the development’s impact on existing homeowners is considered and cared for.”

The committee created a development questionnaire and sent it to the 1,400 property owners in the area. Bradbury said 640 of the questionnaires were returned.

“The majority felt the quality of life at Northstar would be negatively impacted by full development,” he said.

“There is the overall concern of proposed density, which presents concerns for impacts on roads, traffic congestion and on the environment,” Simmons added. “But we are more concerned about what we don’t know as opposed to what we know.”

Bradbury also said most supported East West in plans to improve and expand the village, and most were neutral on plans to build a reduced number of residential units.

“We sent a letter to Martis Valley Planning Committee, to Fred Yaeger, director of Placer County’s planning department and to Rex Bloomfield, a Placer County supervisor, saying we don’t support 2,200 new units,” Bradbury said.

“We recognize the rights of the builder,” Simmons added. “We just want to make sure that anything that is done which could be damaging is mitigated. We are not trying to tell them how to do their business.”

Tirman said there are some environmental and economic concerns which are well known, and that East West has been working to find acceptable solutions.

“Northstar has issues with traffic on the weekends already,” Tirman said. “We have engaged a traffic consultant who is locally known to lay our planning out to minimize traffic impacts.”

“The committee has really been our prime interface for communication with the homeowners,” he added. “We have been meeting on a fairly regular basis since they formed.”

The group is open to anyone from the Northstar Property Owners’ Association.

Mountain Area Preservation Foundation has also been vocal on developments within the area, and has expressed concerns over East West Partners’ interest in developing Planned Community 2.

Others, such as Sierra Watch and small, individual groups like Landis Communication, have also expressed interest in the developments, but are not prepared to comment.

If the plan for rebuilding the village at Northstar is approved, builders won’t expect to break ground until summer 2002, said Erin Bernall, communications manager at Northstar.

For more information about Northstar’s development plans, Tirman recommends residents contact East West Partners at their office on Commercial Row at 587-2222.


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