Heavenly housing plan snuffed
MINDEN – Heavenly Ski Resort’s plan to build an employee housing complex on the top of Kingsbury Grade was squelched Tuesday.
The Douglas County Planning Commission denied the resort’s request to change the zoning on a 76-acre piece of land from forest and range land to multiple-family residential usage.
Heavenly wanted to build a 300-unit complex to accommodate 600 resort workers. As part of the last revision of the Douglas County Master Plan, Heavenly was required to build enough housing to accommodate one-third of its employees. The decision by the Douglas County Planning Board will hamstring the resort’s latest attempt to comply.
Opponents of the change in zoning ordinance sited numerous reasons for denying the move. There was concern that Kingsbury does not have sufficient roadways to accommodate the estimated 1,800 additional daily trips the new housing would generate on the grade. A Heavenly spokesman countered the argument, saying that Heavenly would provide additional bus services to transport residents from the top to the bottom of the grade.
Opponents also cited environmental concerns for blocking development. While the proposed housing project would be relatively inconspicuous, simply changing the zoning would not ensure Heavenly would use all the land for the outlined purposes. Many fear that changing the zoning ordinance would open the door for the land to be used for ecologically unsound purposes.
Heavenly was not alone in support of lifting the ban on residential development of the land in question. Heavenly has approached many of the Lake Tahoe resort casinos about using the proposed housing for hotel employees. A Harveys Resort & Casino spokesperson cited recent problems in finding affordable housing in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Many on the planning commission recognized the legitimacy of many of the arguments presented in favor of the change in ordinance. However, their 4-3 vote in favor of the change was short of the necessary two-thirds majority required to pass.
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