Tahoe ski resort expansion plan raises concerns

February 12, 2011 4:26:07 PM PST
An expansion project proposed by Homewood Mountain Ski Resort on Lake Tahoe's west shore has raised concerns from residents and conservationists.

Opponents say the redevelopment plan unveiled by the resort's owner -- San Francisco-based real estate firm JMA Ventures -- would cause major traffic congestion and disturb the community's quality of life.

"(The project) will result in dangerous, unavoidable traffic jams and the degradation of rural, family lifestyles in Homewood communities," Cathy and Tom Crumpton, of Homewood, wrote in a letter to Truckee's Sierra Sun. "Additional development of Homewood Mountain Resort is creating much anxiousness on the part of neighbors."

But Art Chapman, president of JMA Ventures, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that the multi-million-dollar project would be a major asset to the community.

"(It would create) an upscale boutique ski resort the community can be proud of ... (It would make Homewood) the most progressive environmental ski resort ever at Lake Tahoe," he said.

Among other features, plans call for a base lodge that includes a 75-room boutique hotel; a new state-of-the-art base mountain facility; up to 25,000 square feet of retail space; and as many as 99 multi-family condominiums in three separate buildings.

JMA Ventures planned to present a draft environmental impact statement of the project at a Feb. 23 meeting of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's governing board.

Mason Overstreet, of Friends of the West Shore, praised developers for environmental improvements incorporated into the redevelopment project. "They have most definitely gone the extra mile," he said.

But Overstreet said he thinks the scale of the project is too large and incompatible with the community.

Carl Young, program director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, joined Overstreet in expressing concern over the project's impact on traffic. The resort expansion and anticipated increase in tourism will create more traffic jams on Highway 89, he said.

"This project will increase traffic in the summer, and I question the scale of development in an area that is already vulnerable to traffic," Young told the Tribune.

David Tirman, executive vice president of JMA Ventures, said incorporating lodging facilities into the resort will help Homewood evolve from a ski destination exclusively for day commuters to one that can accommodate overnight guests, a plan that would reduce day traffic during the winter.

Homewood is committed to providing alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles, shuttles and hybrid electric cars to offset the anticipated increase in summer traffic, Tirman added.

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