No more public hearings planned for Heavenly master plan
Apparently last Wednesday was the only chance for the public to speak directly before the decision makers on Heavenly Mountain Resort’s Master Plan.
The public comment period for the plan will close July 17, despite a nearly eight-hour wait to speak at the last meeting of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board.
A public hearing on Heavenly was scheduled 2 1/2 hours into the meeting, but did not start until 7 1/2 hours later, at 4:30 p.m., after many people who were going to speak apparently left, according to leaders on both sides of the debate.
John Friedrich with the League to Save Lake Tahoe said most cannot afford to take eight hours off from work. He vowed to demand another hearing at the next meeting.
TRPA will not hold another public hearing, according to TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowen.
“We value everyone’s time and tried to plan the agenda so that everyone would have a chance to give their input,” said Cowen. “Thankfully, nearly a dozen people did get a chance to speak, and the Governing Board heard a wide range of opinions. We don’t want anyone’s voice to be left out, so we will be accepting comments in writing, or by e-mail, until July 17. We will put all of the public comments we receive into a report for the Governing Board as they work toward a decision.”
Terri Marceron, Forest Service supervisor in Lake Tahoe, said her agency is not required to hold a formal public hearing. The Forest Service is the lead agency on the project, but must obtain TRPA approval for it. “There are no other hearings for the 60-day comment period,” she said.
The Forest Service will hold an informational meeting Thursday where written comments will be accepted.
TRPA’s board must approve a policy change if it wants to approve the proposed changes at Heavenly.
Current policy prohibits any development or cutting of trees in the Edgewood Creek watershed, which includes Heavenly’s North Bowl area. The resort is proposing to cut down 230 old growth trees to put a high-speed lift in the area.
TRPA meetings often include time-certain items so people know when to show up to voice their opinions to the board. This agenda included a time-certain hearing for a project on Tahoe’s North Shore, but none for the Heavenly project. Those who were there for the public comment time that starts each meeting were told to wait until their agenda item came forward.
A line item on the agenda of the June 28 TRPA board meeting indicated it was “notice of the commencement of 60-day comment period” on Heavenly’s master plan. In the item’s two-page explanation on page 233, it indicates the deadline for public comment is July 17.