Placer supes will vote on ‘Villas’ in Auburn |

Placer supes will vote on ‘Villas’ in Auburn

The final decision on a controversial six-unit timeshare development in Homewood, Villas at Harborside, won’t be made at Lake Tahoe.

Instead, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will consider the project proposed by Nate Topol at its June 12 meeting in Auburn.

Under normal circumstances, the board hears issues pertaining to Tahoe during its quarterly meetings at the lake, said District 5 Supervisor Bruce Kranz. But since the next lakeside board meeting will not be held until the end of July, Kranz said he want the contentious issue addressed at the next board meeting at the county seat in Auburn.

“[The Villas] have been talked up here in infinitum and we just need to get on with it,” Kranz said. He added that it would be unfair to the developers to postpone the decision until July.

“That means they would miss a whole building season again,” Kranz said. “…Decisions have to be finally made at some time.”

Residents agree that the project was thoroughly discussed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and all that remains for Placer County are formalities. Some critics of the Homewood project, however, believe the county is sidestepping the issue by reviewing the development in Auburn.

“Frankly, I’d be surprised if very many Tahoe people put the time to drive to Auburn,” said Ron Grassi, a member of Friends of the West Shore, an informal group opposed to the timeshare development. “Whereas, I can assure you if there was a meeting up in Tahoe it would be attended.”

After an extensive public process, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s governing board approved Topol’s modified proposal to build six timeshare units on his property adjacent to the Homewood Marina and across Highway 89 from the Homewood Mountain Resort. The bistate planning agency approved the project under stipulations that require Topol to tear down the Marina Lodge, construct a boat-washing facility, improve blighted boat racks and contribute $100,000 to the Homewood Home Owners Association for public beach access.

After the planning agency’s governors made their decision, Kranz said he felt both sides had reached a consensus. Though the new plan may not be what everyone preferred, Kranz said the compromise addressed enough issues to appease those who were involved.

“I think we’ve had ample opportunity for everyone to hear this issue,” said Kranz, who insisted that every concern voiced by neighbors be raised during the planning agency’s meetings. “We went through the extra effort of hearing all these complaints.”

West Shore resident and business owner Ed Miller agreed.

“Usually, I personally prefer that Tahoe issues be handled in Tahoe,” Miller said. “… [But] I really think all of the issues have been heavily addressed.”

The Placer County Planning Commission first approved Topol’s original plan for nine units in 2005, but an appeal and public hearings with the Tahoe agency prolonged the issue until an updated six-unit version was approved in April. Since nine units was previously approved by the county, additional environmental review for a six-unit proposal is not required.

“Placer County could have handled many of the issues of this project, but they chose to turn a lot of it over to [the planning agency],” Miller said. “Now that [the agency] has approved it, there isn’t much for Placer to approve.”

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