Appearance is everything for gondola project |

Appearance is everything for gondola project

MINDEN – If you build that nearly six-mile-long gondola stretching from Carson Valley to Stateline, make sure it doesn’t create a big, ugly scar up through the mountains.

This was the message delivered Tuesday by Douglas County planners to developers proposing a $700 million project that includes shops, a hotel, casino, and an elaborate transportation system that could ferry as many as 2,400 people an hour on a high-speed gondola from the valley to Lake Tahoe’s south shore casinos – and vice versa.

“I think, from what I detect from the public, is people would support the project unless it creates a visual scar,” said Jay Lather, Douglas County planning commissioner.

While likely years from becoming a reality, officials from Kingsbury Summit Development gave a presentation to the planning commission Tuesday.

“I think that one of the big concerns is the aesthetics or visual impacts,” said Ame Hellman, chairwoman of the board, which makes recommendations to the decision-making Douglas County Commission.

“I agree with Jay,” she added. “People over and over bring up the issue of visual impacts.”

The project would include a 500-unit hotel-casino, 300-unit time share, 200 units of employee housing and as much as 1,000 square feet of retail shops in a Kingsbury Summit Complex nestled in the mountains east of Tahoe at an elevation of about 6,800 feet. The gondola would have 280 eight-passenger cars. And it would carry passengers from a spot south of Genoa near Walley’s Hot Springs, at an elevation of about 4,900 feet, up to the summit complex; on over the peak of the mountain, about 7,800 feet; onto Heavenly Ski Resort and eventually to a location near Stateline’s casinos, an elevation of about 6,000.

The 5.8-mile ride would take 16 minutes.

Currently an application for the project has been put on hold by Douglas County staff as the developers obtain more input from the public.

Keith Ruben, a consultant for the developer, said a more comprehensive application should be submitted within six months, which will give county staffers a more detailed proposal.

Assuming approval is gained at every level, the gondola should be built within four years, the developers estimate. Completion of the entire project likely would be a 10-year undertaking.

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