Burke project will get rewrite | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Burke project will get rewrite

A developer planning to build a strongly opposed housing project near South Shore’s Burke Creek intends to change his proposal dramatically with hopes that this time it might gain approval from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

“We’re in the process of working out the details of whether we need to reapply or amend the application,” said Larry Hoffman, attorney for the developer, adding that there was no target date for the project to be considered by TRPA’s governing board.

The current proposal, which has been stopped by TRPA’s board, calls for 26 separate condominiums to be built as part of the South Shore Estates project, which is proposed near Burke Creek, Lake Village and Stateline’s Burger King.

The new proposal will put the 26 units into five buildings in “a more traditional condominium style,” Hoffman said.

The change may alleviate some fears, specifically from the California Attorney General’s Office, that the subdivision and the 26 separate units that it would create is a violation of TRPA’s own rules.

Other concerns likely will remain.

“All we ever wanted was an adequate level of environmental review. That stamp won’t change,” said Dave Roberts, assistant executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, which has long expressed concerns with the South Shore Estates Proposal. “We’d be looking for something like an (Environmental Impact Statement) on raw land with streams. Although it has pockets of high-capability land, it does potentially have impacts on Lake Tahoe.”

The controversial project has a complex history that includes no shortage of long, drawn-out debates at monthly TRPA meetings.

The project’s proponents plan a variety of environmental upgrades for the area, including restoration of a section of Burke Creek, which runs through the 18-acre parcel. The League, Attorney General’s Office and and a coalition of Tahoe property owners, primarily from nearby Lake Village, called the Friends of Burke Creek have long expressed concern that the restoration work may be inadequate. And the Attorney General’s Office has maintained that subdivisions such as the project went against TRPA’s own code.

Last September TRPA’s governing board, by a split vote and against the recommendation of its staff, failed to make the environmental findings for the project. Without that, it couldn’t be approved. An appeal of the decision was denied the next month. Since then TRPA staffers and board members have debated whether the project is dead, a question that still is unresolved.

Last month, by repeated split votes, the agency’s governing board wasn’t able to give the developer direction on what level of environmental review needed to be completed for the project to continue.

At the February governing board meeting Wednesday, John Marshall, TRPA legal counsel, said the agency should put off deciding whether the proposal is “dead or alive” for another month. If the developer plans to reapply, with substantially changed plans, that debate would be moot. Even if the project is dead, the developer is allowed to reapply as long as there are significant alterations in the plan.

James Borelli, the developer planning to build South Shore Estates, Wednesday said trying to get the project through TRPA was frustrating.

Jerome Waldie, the California Senate Rules Committee appointee to TRPA’s board, said he felt the board’s vacillation on the issue made the board appear inefficient to the public.

“I’ve never seen, in my six-plus years on the board, a project that sticks around as long as this one… I think we look as awkward as we’ve ever looked – on this issue, on this project,” he said.

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