Appeal of Bijou Park Creek project withdrawn | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Appeal of Bijou Park Creek project withdrawn

After an appeal of the Bijou Park Creek project was withdrawn, the demolition of the Knights Inn can proceed as scheduled.

An appeal of the environmental document for the Bijou Park Creek Marketplace project, formerly referred to as the Knights Inn project, has been withdrawn.

Donna Gilpin, an employee of Safeway and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), filed an appeal of the city of South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission's May 11 decision to approve the project's mitigated negative declaration.

According to a press release sent out by the city on June 14, Gilpin acknowledged that the appeal was proposed and written by UFCW "to oppose competition, not to address environmental concerns." Part of the commercial development includes the addition of a Whole Foods 365 store. When reached by phone, Gilpin did not want to comment on the appeal.

"The city recognizes the rights of union workers to oppose competition, however, the use of CEQA to do so is an abuse of the intent of the process," said City Manager Nancy Kerry.

"In this case, a mitigated negative declaration was the right analysis because the proposed environmental redevelopment project will provide a variety of environmental benefits, reduce fine sediments flowing into Lake Tahoe, improve the visual appeal of the area and strengthen the economy, which is an environmental improvement over the current condition."

The city has plans to restore a portion of the Bijou Park Creek Watershed, but hopes to secure additional grant funding to do more work upstream.

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"The entire watershed delivers about 40,000 pounds of fine sediment per year, and the project as it currently is would remove approximately 8,000 of that, and in the future phases we would be able to look into using the 80 acres of other public land throughout the stream area to reduce further those other fine sediments," explained Jason Burke, stormwater program coordinator for the city.

Demolition of the Knights Inn parcel is expected to start in June or July.

"This is an exciting time in South Lake Tahoe with the Zalanta project grand opening [on June 13], the Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe opening next week, the recent reopening of the redevelopment of the Crossings at the Y, small and large business openings and capital investments occurring throughout town, pushing us over-the-$750,000,000 mark in capital investment over the past four years," said Mayor Austin Sass. "We look forward to the new Bijou Park Creek Marketplace project which will continue the revitalization of the South Shore."