Meyers planning disputed during meeting |

Meyers planning disputed during meeting

Isaac Brambila
A community member addresses the El Dorado County Planning Commission Thursday morning during a special meeting regarding the Meyers Area Plan.
Isaac Brambila/Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The El Dorado County Planning Commission continued to shape its view Thursday morning during a special meeting abundant with diverse public comment over the future of the community of Meyers.

The commission reviewed a nearly hour-long presentation by the Community Development Agency, Long Range Planning Division, which presented a third draft for the Meyers Area Plan said to be shaped by public comment.

The presentation was followed by roughly an-hour-and-a-half of public comment, during which a clear disparity over the residents’ ideas for future development became apparent.

Much of the public comment echoed the idea of a looming fear in many residents of overdevelopment in the area, a few using Stateline as an example for what they don’t want Meyers to become.

At the center of the discussion, were height and density restrictions.

At least two people spoke against expanding those restrictions, who expressed concerns about the layout of the city. They argued that in the past there were different restrictions in different areas of town.

They also voiced concerns for what they said was a lack of transparency.

“I really hope that you take into account that the people of Meyers have not had proper input or transparency in this process,” Angela Olson, who said she has lived in the area for 34 years, told the board.

A slight majority of people, however, voiced support for at least some flexibility in the limits to allow for moderate development. Those voices included local residents, members of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce and the president of the South Tahoe Association of Realtors.

Many said they were concerned that major restrictions would dissuade even small business from either moving to Meyers or staying.

“If we keep waiting and trying to make it perfect, we’re never going to change and we’re going to keep failing,” local resident and member of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce Jason Collin said.

Others also disagreed with the notion of lack of transparency in the planning process.

Public comment also reflected an almost general consensus in favor of keeping the current small town feel and look most say Meyers has.

During the Long Range Planning Division presentation, Brendan Ferry, a representative of the division, said four priorities were to maintain a “walkable mountain community,” keeping sustainability values, retaining outdoor sports and recreation opportunities and being able to develop a “thriving local-based economy.”

The workshop Thursday presented a third draft that represented changes to the second draft, which was reviewed in February and March.

The new draft suggested lower height and density restrictions.

According to the figures presented, the maximum height within the Meyers Community Center was proposed to be lowered from 45 feet to 35 feet, the Meyers industrial zone was kept at 35 feet and the Upper Truckee Residential/Tourist zone was lowered from 42 feet to 35 feet.

“It’s challenging because this really is just a plan at the end of the day. It doesn’t put anything on the ground,” Ferry said.

The unit density for tourist accommodations was reduced from 40 units per acre to 15 units per acre, while multi-family residential was kept at 20 units per acre.

The commission, which did not take action in the process but provided guidance, agreed with many public comments that suggested some of the changes in the third draft were too restrictive.

“In my 35 years I’ve seen a lot of paint go on buildings, but they’re the same old ugly buildings,” District 5 Commissioner Brian Shinault said.

The three present members, Chairman Walter Mathews, First Vice-Chair Rich Stewart and Shinault, recommended a 42-foot height restriction for businesses, a 35-foot limit for the industrial zone and a 42-foot restriction for the residential/tourism area.

They also preferred to reduce density limits at 40 units per acre for tourism and 20 units per acre for multi-family residential areas.

Mathews said keeping higher limits will keep options open for new business to develop, and added that other restrictions already in place will prevent overdevelopment.

Furthermore, the commission recommended not to formalize the Meyers Advisory Committee and keep it simply as an informal committee as its been functioning.

According to the staff report submitted by the Long Range Planning Division, there are at least nine more steps to be completed before the plan is adopted.

Next, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will host an informational presentation on Oct. 28. Subsequently, a California Environmental Quality Act document will be submitted to the California Clearinghouse and a 30-day comment period will begin.

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