Roller coaster at Northstar: Placer County expects to make initial conclusion Friday | SierraSun.com

Roller coaster at Northstar: Placer County expects to make initial conclusion Friday

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

Courtesy Photo - Jack AffleckRiders of all ages enjoy the curves and waves on the Canyon Flyer, the first alpine coaster in the U.S., at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colo. The proposed coaster at Northstar would be similar to the one in Colorado.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The Placer County planning department expects to give an initial opinion on a projected alpine roller coaster at Northstar-at-Tahoe as early as this Friday, officials said.

Paul Thompson, a Placer County deputy planning director, said staff is still reviewing an environmental questionnaire and an environmental noise assessment submitted by the Booth Creek Ski Holdings (which manages Northstar).

and#8220;Our comments are due on (Friday) March 12,and#8221; Thompson said.

From the comments, Thompson said two things could happen: 1) Either the planning department will conclude it has sufficient environmental information to make a future approval of the project; or 2) The planning department will say it doesnand#8217;t not have sufficient information to make a determination on the project.

If more information is required, Thompson said it could require Booth Creek perform studies like a biological assessment or a wetlands study be done.

Regardless of Fridayand#8217;s decision, Thompson said Northstarand#8217;s proposed construction date of May 2010, according to the environmental questionnaire, is doubtful considering the time it will take the county to evaluate the project.

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Tim Beck, Northstarand#8217;s vice president of resort development, said he understands the process and that Northstar is communicating with homeowners in the area to update them about what is going on and to identify concerns.

and#8220;Weand#8217;ve been working very close with nearby homeowner associations, and weand#8217;ve talked with them about their concerns and issues,and#8221; he said.

Beck said the reasoning behind the alpine coaster is to provide more of a family environment to Northstar, especially for those wishing to enjoy the mountain without the strenuous physical efforts demanded by skiing or mountain biking.

and#8220;The most important thing to us is to have other amenities for families to use,and#8221; he said.

Yet, the proposal, described as a two-person toboggan that would be controlled by riders and reach speeds of up to 25 mph, is gathering scrutiny from some homeowners in the area.

David Landis, who originally voiced concern, said other homeowners in the area are mobilizing very quickly against the idea.

and#8220;We have a broad based support of organizations united against this project,and#8221; Landis said.

He said homeowner organizations, environmental groups and government representatives are being notified about noise impacts and potential environmental threats from the project.