Workforce housing enviro-review begins | SierraSun.com

Workforce housing enviro-review begins

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

The environmental document for Tahoe Vista’s downsized affordable-housing project is now available for public comment.

Vista Village, the controversial workforce housing project formerly known as Cedar Grove, has been in the works for about five years and, after much community input, is finally coming before Placer County and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The document was drafted on the original proposal of 152 units because of time and finance constraints, said Andrea Clark, vice president of Pacific West Communities.

But the Mourelatos family, who owns the 12-acre parcel off National Avenue, and Pacific West Communities plan only to develop the 72 units they presented to the North Tahoe community last fall.

“That alternative was developed with input from community stakeholders we met with over nine months,” Clark said.

The 72 units would cover 30 percent of the land, which is the maximum coverage the property’s soil can allow, Clark said. The developers could apply for more coverage, she added, but are choosing to stick with the current land-capability report.

And while the entire project will include 64 rental units and eight for-purchase homes, the initial phase will include just 32 rentals. The developers intend to proceed in three phases.

“Because this has been such a contentious project … we can’t finance more than 32 rental units at this point in the game,” said Clark.

North Tahoe residents have already started to scan the document, though it will take time for both the community and the agencies to review the details of traffic, water, sewer and other infrastructure impacts and plans for mitigation.

Because so many community members voiced concerns with the old Cedar Grove project, when Mourelatos started anew with Pacific West Communities he formed a focus group with North Tahoe representatives in 2006.

And while the four or five focus group meetings did shed a lot of light on project development they didn’t cover how certain issues would be addressed.

“What we didn’t see were the issues ” water, traffic and so on ” and now the EIR addresses these … and [says] how it addresses it,” said Tahoe Vista resident Jerry Wotel.

Wotel said that at first glance he hasn’t noticed anything glaring in the environmental document but is still concerned with traffic, safety and water and sewer capacity.

“We just have to look at [the document] closely,” Wotel said.

The draft environmental impact review is available for a 60-day public review through June 1 and can be found online at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Web site.

“The purpose of the 60-day comment period is to gather input from the public, experts and other agencies regarding the adequacy of the study and how it analyzes issues, concerns, impacts and mitigation,” said Jeff Cowen, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency community liaison. “We cannot guess at this point when the final [environmental review document] could be released for our governing board to certify, but it is expected this summer,” Cowen said.-

The Vista Village property is currently zoned for only one residential home. Developers must apply to change the zoning before both Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County consider approving the project.