Kingsbury homeowners fight developer
The battle was won, but the war is just beginning for some Upper Kingsbury homeowners.
The line was drawn Tuesday at the Douglas County Planning Commission when a group of about 15 homeowners voiced their opposition to a new proposed time-share unit. Developer David Maizel, president of the Shellback Development Corp., was seeking approval for a six-unit townhouse to be built on a large, steep boulder hill off Tramway Drive, just inside the Summit Village subdivision. Homeowners said they feel the project will place too much strain on the neighborhood’s resources and block the natural beauty of the area. The proposed site is outside of the Tahoe Basin making it exempt from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s regulations.
Maizel, who originally purchased three separate building parcels, was asking the planning commission to switch the parcels for three connected parcels further up the hill. The original three parcels would also be used for driveway access, parking spaces, and a swimming pool and spa for the complex.
Alan Buttell, president of the Hilltop Duplex Homeowner’s Association located below the proposed development site, argued that through his request, Maizel was effectively doubling his land purchase while only paying for three parcels. Buttell also pointed out that Maizel was planning to sell the units as either individual sales or partnership sales with six buyers or less effectively making the building a time-share unit.
“This is a hearing about a great land giveaway,” said homeowner Erlene Schooler. “The entire hillside will be obliterated from view for all the owners except for the time-shares.”
Schooler referred to the Douglas County Master Plan arguing the project was in direct opposition of the plan’s objectives.
“The master plan places great emphasis on the need of development to seek compatibility with the natural beauty and be consistent with the limited use of the Sierra planning area,” she said.
Lorraine Marlowe, a resident of South Benjamin Drive, told the board that the master plan often is forgotten on the top of the mountain.
“When I look at how beautiful Douglas County is, I realize that the building codes and master plan work. Unless, you happen to live in Upper Kingsbury. There the codes are continually pushed aside and non-conformity to the codes is the norm – if you happen to be a developer.”
Commissioner Virginia Henningsen agreed with the homeowners that the approval of a plan like Maizel’s could set a precedent that would allow other developers to go against the county’s master plan.
“I don’t think adding another wrong doing is necessarily the way to go,” Henningsen said.
Maizel defended his plan to the board saying that he believed the project would upgrade the ridge area and provide more parking for existing residences.
The board unanimously denied the proposal, but Maizel will get a second chance Thursday at the Douglas County Commission meeting. Maizel could also still possibly build three-story duplexes on his original lots, a plan the homeowners say they have less opposition to.
The homeowners said they saw Tuesday as the first of many battles to protect their neighborhood. Many also expressed concern about developers’ plans to build a commercial center east of the Kingsbury ridge line as part of a gondola line linking the Carson Valley to South Shore.
“They’re next,” said homeowner Paul Marlowe in reference to the gondola developers.
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