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Summit forum to address future development

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

With two counties governing Donner Summit and unknown development plans looming for Royal Gorge, residents on the Summit want to plan for the future.

The Donner Summit Area Association and the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association will host a forum Saturday to discuss future development on the Summit. Local nonprofit organizations, businesses, homeowners, and representatives from Nevada and Placer counties will meet to address regional development planning and to gather public input for future updates to general plans in both counties.

The goal of the forum is to achieve a consensus with Summit organizations regarding long-term development, said Daniel Wexler, president of the Donner Summit Area Association. Donner Summit is geographically split, he said, with both Placer and Nevada counties involved in the development planning process.

Circumstances on the Summit have changed dramatically in the last five years, Wexler said. The general plans for both counties need to accommodate those recent changes, and to include current environmental conditions, he said.

Bringing interested groups together to talk about future development is a positive step in addressing the Summit region, said David Kean, a representative from the Tahoe Area Sierra Club.

Sierra Watch, a local nonprofit group dedicated to protection of the Sierra Nevada, plans to be engaged throughout the county planning process, said Tom Mooers, executive director of Sierra Watch. Donner Summit is one of the “truly iconic landscapes in the Sierra Nevada,” Mooers said, with “a whole lot at stake” concerning natural resources as the region looks to the future.

Future development of Royal Gorge has been a pointed topic of discussion for Donner Summit residents since the resort was purchased by Todd Foster and Kirk Syme more than a year ago. The Royal Gorge owners plan to develop portions of the 3,000 acres of land surrounding the resort. Finalized plans, however, are still in the works.

Rather than honing in on Royal Gorge, Wexler said the Summit Summit will discussion development on a broader scale.

The DSAA recently received grant funding to support “this exact process in the development of a regional community plan,” Wexler said. The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation contributed $5,000 to the DSAA because of the nonprofit’s “positive, proactive approach they’re trying to make” in the community, said Phebe Bell, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation program officer.

The second grant of $4,500 came from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, based in Oakland, Calif., Wexler said.

“Our goal is to really provide a document that integrates the desires of the community,” Wexler said.

The forum will help generate a rough draft of a community plan, Wexler said, and a timeline to gauge the planning progress. The DSAA will suggest that a steering committee be formed to gather public input and establish a relationship with county planners and developers, Wexler said.

Local nonprofit organizations including the Sierra Business Council, Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, and Sierra Watch are invited to attend Saturday’s forum. Royal Gorge developers and representatives from Sugarbowl Ski Resort will be present at the meeting, Wexler said. He said he met with Placer County supervisors on Tuesday to discuss future development on the Summit, but said he could not confirm whether Nevada County supervisors would be present at the forum.


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