Royal Gorge plans become public |

Royal Gorge plans become public

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoTodd Foster, one of the owners of Royal Gorge Ski Resort, uses a map to talk about future developments on the property at a community meeting last year.

After repeated requests by property owners, the Sierra Sun’s sister newspaper The Union and threats of litigation, Placer County has agreed to make documents from Royal Gorge developers available for public review.

The change of heart by the county comes after the documents were kept from the public eye for more than a month.

“I think it’s a victory for the public. Placer County did the right thing,” said Peter Van Zant, field director of Sierra Watch, a Nevada City-based conservation group.

People who live in the Serene Lakes subdivision on Donner Summit have kept close tabs on the owners of Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort, where plans are developing for a 950-unit Sierra development project with ski lodges, trails, a ski lift, man-made lakes and clustered housing called “camps.” The ski resort is the largest of its kind in North America.

On Nov. 21, developers Royal Gorge LLC delivered more than a 100 pages of pre-submittal documents for the county to review with the request that they stay administrative in nature. The county agreed to the request, believing an exemption in the state’s Public Records Act allowed them to keep the records from the public.

Last week, the county stalled in returning the documents as Royal Gorge requested and agreed to “voluntarily” hold onto the papers until the matter could be settled with the property owners’ attorney.

On Dec. 28, the county received a letter from Royal Gorge’s attorney stating the developers would modify their request to return the documents and allow the county to retain one copy of the documents for the county file, according to a letter addressed to The Union from Deputy County Counsel Scott Finley.

“Because these documents will now be retained by the County in its project file, the County considers them to be public records and available for your inspection and copying,” the letter said.

“It was really a long time to get done what should have been done in the first place,” said Kathryn Gray, who is among a growing number of people who oppose the project. She is concerned the development’s thirst for water will impact the headwaters of the South Yuba River and the North Fork of the American River. The final application for the project is expected sometime in 2008.

“As a result of people’s interest” one hard copy of the pre-submittal documents is available for review at Placer County’s planning department, said Deputy County Counsel Scott Finley.

The county will take no action on the documents, which include an alternative water study. Those who want to make reservations to see the documents can do so by calling (530) 745-3000.

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