West shore residents question Homewood Mountain Resort developer | SierraSun.com

West shore residents question Homewood Mountain Resort developer

HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN RESORT and#8212; Art Chapman, a developer proposing adding a hotel and other amenities to one of Lake Tahoe’s smallest ski resorts, sounded hoarse Saturday after nearly two hours of speaking.

His audience was to blame. The 100 or so residents in attendance at the resort who live full- or part-time nearby never wavered their attention during the two hours as he detailed the plans, as well as the unknowns, to keeping the resort viable. And their questions kept coming.

The units he is proposing to add to the west shore include a historic hotel, employee housing, duplexes and luxury suites. He significantly decreased the proposal since initial public comment began a year ago, something that was not lost on nearby residents.

And when the questions resided and the two-odd-hours passed, many residents there said they felt a the time was well spent.

and#8220;He seems trustworthy,and#8221; said neighbor Dan Coleman. and#8220;The effort is laudable.and#8221;

David and Valerie Powell, second homeowners since 1974, said the proposed hotel would be right in front of their house, but that didn’t sway their optimism.

and#8220;We’re lifelong skiers, so we want to see this resort survive,and#8221; said David Powell, who spends most of his time at Lake Tahoe in the winter. and#8220;The main difference between this and past talks is he had never detailed the business argument. That was new information he gave today. They came up and said we needed 316 units to stay in business. That makes sense to me.and#8221;

Chapman, who is also developing the Avery Hotel in Truckee, has spent hours the past two years working with area residents. Saturday, he echoed those talks, saying the resort had to enlarge its bed base to stay in business, and most seemed to understand.

As Chapman put it, and#8220;We worked hard to get their trust. We’ve talked with 1,000 people in their front rooms and in their kitchens. We do what we’re going to say we’re going to do.and#8221;

Aside from living units, the proposal also includes a new gondola, improved parking and a number of renewable energy products.

While most questions dealt with specifics and minutiae, one question did resonate with a number of neighbors: What will the current economic status do to the development?

and#8220;It will slow it down,and#8221; Chapman said. and#8220;You don’t set business plans around this economic climate. You have to assume we’ll come out of it because we always have.and#8221;

Members of Friends of the West Shore, a group that formed to keep major developments away from the area, had a few members in attendance. They said they appreciated the changes Chapman made, but they still wanted it to be smaller.

Before a hammer can ever hit a nail, an Environmental Impact Review must be completed, which is about half over. That should be up for public review in 2010, Chapman said.

Most likely, construction could not begin until as early as 2011, with the project being phased in for the next few years. More public open houses will be held as well, which will be announced at a later date.

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