Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Board unanimously approves JMA Ventures proposed redevelopment of Homewood Mountain Resort with significant community support for the water quality benefits of the project.
December 14, 2011
by Michelle Sweeney for TahoeProject.org
“In 2010 we had one of the greatest water clarity declines in recorded history,” said Michael Hogan of Integrated Environmental (IERS), consultant to JMA Ventures, the proponent of the Homewood Mountain Resort redevelopment project. Mr. Hogan continued, “This [water clarity decline] suggests that we have to expand our model of how we do water quality work in Tahoe”. He went on to describe how Homewood/JMA Ventures is implementing a new model that demonstrates “real, measurable environmental benefit… that will undoubtedly exceed the water quality threshold requirements.”
Art Chapman, JMA Ventures President, anticipates that the resort redevelopment will result in annual sediment reduction of 154,000 pounds or 75 tons from the Homewood site. He attributes this reduction to upland best management practices JMA Ventures is already implementing at Homewood such as retiring and rehabilitating impervious land that conducts sediment to the Lake. The redevelopment goal is to transform Homewood into a four-season, sustainable resort by adding hotel accommodation and amenities to attract destination visitors and implementing environmentally-friendly management practices for building and managing the resort.
On the water quality merits of the proposed Homewood Resort management practices there was little debate in public comment. Carl Young of the League to Save Lake Tahoe opened his remarks saying, “One of the League’s positions is to support redevelopment that is beneficial and contributes to the improvement of water quality. The [Homewood] project as-proposed— with 50-year stormwater treatment on site, restoration of mountainside roadways and other assorted and innovative measures— appears to provide water quality benefits. The League appreciates this level of attention to best management practices… [and] monitoring of the BMPs to make sure that they are effective, especially with regard to fine sediment capture and nutrient and pollution discharge to the Lake."
Michael Lozeau, a partner at Lozeau Drury LLP gave remarks on behalf of the Friends of West Shore and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club that also emphasized water quality as the critical issue. His statement, “There is a project here [Homewood] that will likely fit into the future Regional Plan… [in the context of which] the finding must be made that all of the thresholds, but especially water quality, will be attained. This is the biggest challenge that this [Tahoe Regional Planning Agency] Board is confronting.”
In response to comments submitted during the Draft Environmental Impact Statement review process Homewood/JMA Ventures made numerous significant adjustments to the master plan; reducing project size, moving buildings and adding environmental monitoring. Many people filing comment had positive remarks about the transparency of Homewood/JMA Ventures approach to the Homewood redevelopment. Steve Frisch, President of the Sierra Business Council said, “JMA has had an incredibly transparent process… I don’t think I have ever seen a project proponent and team do more outreach in the community, do more listening to people that live in the neighborhood… really work to try to achieve the best outcome that they can from the beginning of a project and build into the project things like affordable housing, fair wages, the social and environmental justice components of the project.” Seventy individuals and groups made comment during the four-hour public hearing. More than two-thirds of comments provided indicated support for redevelopment—many of these citing the reason for their support as Homewood’s potential for creating “a community that is thriving, with businesses and restaurants…things that attract middle class families,” as Homewood resident Allison Shriver stated.
The point of debate was not whether Homewood should be redeveloped, but whether the size and scale of development proposed by Homewood/JMA Ventures would be most beneficial to, or in-keeping with, community character. Toward this end no less than fifteen requests were made that the project size be reduced, some said, “by 1/3, others said “by 30%” and still others had specific height reduction suggestions or specific buildings they suggested be removed from the plan. Ron Grassi represented this opinion when he said, “It is an excellent project. It’s just too big.”
Jeffrey Hurst, Owner/Broker with Tahoe Real Estate Group summarized the counter-argument to "too big" when he said, “In order to meet the requirement to protect the environment a project has to be sized in the appropriate way. We have a lot of unfunded mandates in the Tahoe Basin. This project is going to add dollars that will contribute to meeting our environmental thresholds in Tahoe. The government doesn’t have money to hand out anymore. I think this is an excellent way to do this.” Mr. Hurst was referring to county revenues that can be anticipated with Homewood redevelopment, to the contributions to environmental improvement that JMA is committed to making to offset known issues, and to Mr. Chapman's stated commitment to contribute charitable donations to Tahoe environmental projects through groups like the Tahoe Fund.
The fourteen members of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Board present at the December 14, 2011 hearing voted unanimously to approve the Homewood Mountain Resort redevelopment project.
Homewood project approved by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency | CarsonNOW.org
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League to Save Lake Tahoe | High hopes at Homewood: Opposition shares concerns about proposed redevelopment
TAHOE PROJECT | Homewood Redevelopment August NTRAC Discussion