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Douglas County Commissioners hear condo protest

Nearly 20 Upper Kingsbury residents attended a Douglas County Commissioners meeting Thursday, pleading with commissioners to halt a six-unit condominium complex from being built in their back yards.

But several subtle changes in Shellback Development Corp. president David Maizel’s plans convinced commissioners to delay their decision and send the Summit Village project back to the Douglas County Planning Commission for further review.

“I wasn’t very popular when I did this once before, I’m certain I won’t be now either,” said District Attorney Scott Doyle. “The reason for remanding it back to the planning commission is that if these changes had been presented to them in the first place, they might have come to a different conclusion.”



Maizel’s original request, which the planning commission rejected in August, was to relocate three existing land parcels to form one big plot of land where the six condominiums could be built together, along with a parking lot, swimming pool and spa. Maizel already owns three parcels off Tramway Drive that do not connect. He also requested permission to increase the maximum permitted building height from 35 to 60 feet. Both requests, following substantial input from residents, were denied by the planning commission.

Since August, Maizel received newer, more accurate topographical maps, he said, which allowed him to change his project somewhat and thus address several of the residents’ concerns.




“Mr. Maizel has altered and redesigned parts of this project nearly three times,” said Lee Plemel, junior planner for Douglas County Community Development. “For one thing, whereas before it was right on the rocky knoll, now the knoll is entirely off the project site. And he has also altered the project to meet the height requirements.”

Despite these changes, and the county commissioners’ decision to send the project back to the planning commission, numerous residents took the opportunity to express their concerns about parking, emergency access, losing scenic beauty and destroying the precarious natural environment of Upper Kingsbury.

“This project eliminates one of the last remaining visible rock outcrops,” said resident Robert Wallin. “I think commissioners should really think about whether they want to see this mountain top obliterated by ever-creeping time-shares and condos.”

Since the project is outside of the Tahoe Basin, residents do not have recourse to the restrictive building laws of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Developers do however have to deal with the Douglas County Master Plan, which although far less rigid than any TRPA restrictions, does serve as a guide for projects such as this one.

“I know this is an emotional issue, especially since it’s at the lake,” said Commissioner Don Miner. “But the fact remains that in Douglas County there is no protection of your view corridor, over and above someone else’s parcel of land.”

Maizel, the last audience member to speak to the commission, said the project would clearly benefit the neighborhood.

“By bringing these buildings together, I’m giving back 800 feet of usable space. I am creating my own parking, not creating a parking burden on anyone else. Plus, this project will bring in a higher echelon of resident with the where-with-all to improve the neighborhood,” Maizel said. “My intention is not to dig into this mountain. I want to live here, this will be my home also. I don’t want to build so that the mountain falls on my head.”

The amended project will be reviewed by the planning commission at its Oct. 12 meeting.

In further business, commissioners agreed to endorse an Environmental Protection Agency grant proposal for the conversion of mulch and compost into nutrients for soil restoration projects at Lake Tahoe. They specified that any cash or in-kind staff support could not exceed $200 per year.


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