Meyers development waiting on judge |

Meyers development waiting on judge

Rick Chandler

Be assured that a new, improved, more beautiful Meyers is slowly taking shape.

But the key word here is “slowly,” as a number of factors have conspired to keep major redevelopment plans on the drawing board. The main holdup is a judge’s ruling against El Dorado County’s overall General Plan, which has halted all construction in unincorporated areas of the county.

Meyers residents have always taken pride in the area’s rural charm and beauty. But for the past five years there have also been plans to rebuild some structures and add some services – efforts that culminated in a General Community Plan about two years ago.

Completed projects in the Meyers General Community Plan include the new Yank’s Station Building and the Chevron Station remodeling. And in the works are projects such as a $3 million senior housing facility (a renovation of the old Meyers Hotel); a new post office (adjacent to U.S. Highway 50 at Apache Avenue); an upgrade of the Meyers Downtown Cafe; an historical mural honoring the Celio Ranch (at Supply One hardware) and a new supermarket (from the upscale Lira’s chain).

There are also tentative plans for a large recreational facility.

The main architects of the Community Plan are the members of the Meyers Round Table – a community group formed to gauge public opinion and negotiate with developers and local agencies such as the TRPA and County Planning Commission.

“It’s been quite successful,” said Nick Carroll, a local attorney who is vice chairman of the Round Table. “We have some projects already completed, and plans for several more. After spending several years arguing about what we were going to do, it seems that we are ready to move forward.”

Well, not yet.

In January, a Sacramento judge ruled that El Dorado County’s General Plan was invalid – essentially halting all development except that in incorporated city limits. A judge is set to make a ruling on the county’s General Plan next month.

But in the meantime, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has asked for an exempt status for Meyers – which would allow projects there to go forward.

“We’re hoping for things to get settled, and for projects to get going later this spring,” said Second District Supervisor Ray Nutting, whose district includes Meyers and Tahoe Paradise. “There are some issues still to be dealt with, but overall the community is real excited about it. “We’ve been working with the TRPA and the county planning commission, and we’re ready to go,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the judge to get back to us with some info.”

Legal wrangling may be holding things up at present, but that was not always so. In past years it has seemed that Meyers residents could not agree on anything. Meetings of the now defunct Meyers Town Council were often contentious and unproductive.

“With the old town council, it seemed like some people had a vested interest (in the General Plan),” Carroll said. “So the Round Table was created to provide a cleaner, less biased approach. So far it’s going well. We completed a General Plan about two years ago, and everyone seems happy with it.”

The most ambitious portion of the plan seems to be the proposed senior assisted-living center.

“It looks good,” said Mike Dill of Aspen Environmental, which is handling the construction for Arnett and Associates of Portland, Ore. “The community is really behind the project, which is great.”

Construction crews have already begun inside renovations on the building, situated behind businesses at Yank’s Station. The site was last used by the California Conservation Corps, and has been vacant since 1996.

“I think this project really speaks to the personal and economic needs of the community,” Dill said. “From people I’ve talked to, there’s a need for more than 500 (senior housing) beds in South Lake Tahoe alone.”

According to a 1997 market study, there is indeed a need for senior housing here. There are about 1,400 senior units by the lake, but the study said there is a need for 131 low-income apartments.

The Meyers center would cater mostly to upper-income seniors, but some low-cost units would also be included. The assisted-living center would have 45 studio and one-bedroom apartments, and the two existing free-standing buildings would be connected.

Developer Paul Arnett, who operates six such facilities in Portland and Redmond, Ore., is behind the operation.

“Our Community Plan is tiny in comparison to South Lake Tahoe’s,” said Meyers Round Table Chair Sue Yang. “We’re not working with any big corporations like Heavenly Ski Resort.

“Our intent is to beautify the Meyers corridor, and make a nice gateway to Lake Tahoe.”

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