Crystal Bay residents push back on proposed resort; TRPA yet to see formal plans
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. – Residents of Crystal Bay and Brockway were shocked to hear about the newest plans in regards to the Boulder Bay project, now known as The Resort at Tahoe and Residences (RTAR).
The project, which was first approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 2011, looks very different to what residents thought was going to be built in the space that currently homes the Tahoe Biltmore, along with multiple abandoned buildings and three roads access roads.
The plans were initially presented to the TRPA as Boulder Bay, but the plans were delayed for years before the land was bought by EKN Development Group, which was announced Oct. 7, 2021.
During a community presentation that was given at the end of January in 2022, community members met the new developers, who presented plans that encountered great backlash from the public.
The EKN developer, Ebbie Nakhjavani, presented a resort and high-end housing project that would begin demolition in April 2022, if approved by the county.
“We looked at Tahoe and the Biltmore project as a great opportunity for a luxury brand at five stars in the Crystal Bay and Incline Village community,” said Nakhjavani. “We actually will be a branded community, so it’d be a branded hotel with residences.”
A variety of questions was raised by the public, including whether or not a new environmental impact study (EIS) was done, if the plans had been approved by the TRPA or Washoe County, and if there were any community surveys or traffic studies done prior to any of the decisions being made.
Public Information Officer of the TRPA Jeff Cowen said there hasn’t been any proposals seen by the developers yet.
“Our contact with the representatives have been informal phone calls and responding to their questions about the permit process,” said Cowen. “They have shared their intention to begin work in May, but have not submitted a proposal. Demolition and grading work must be permitted before it can commence. TRPA is going to work with the applicant and Washoe County to ensure that any work on the site and any proposed changes to the original permit follows all permitting and planning procedures and public processes.”
The last EIS was conducted and approved in 2011 for the site. Cowen said there is no way to determine if there needs to be an update to the EIS until there has been a proposal submitted for review.
The Washoe County Board of Adjustment approved a special use permit for EKN Development Group on Thursday, Feb. 3, which approved major grading of the project site as serious demolition needs to occur prior to any new construction.
Many community members and agencies are confused as to how the project has been approved for a special permit, or even come this far, without any approval from the TRPA or correspondence with the community, especially during one of the biggest housing and working crisis in the basin.
Ann Nicholas with the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance has been representing the people of Crystal Bay and Brockway during this time and has adamantly been against the construction of the resort without more research and conversations with the community.
In one letter to the Board of Adjustments that was sent on Feb. 1, the NTPA wrote that 487 people had signed a petition asking the County and TRPA to review the project before any more work is done.
“There is no way to determine the extent of grading required or the scope of the grading permit until the full project notifications and changes have been approved by the TRPA and the County,” wrote the NTPA.
Washoe County Media Manager Bethany Drysdale said the permit will allow only for major grading, but does not allow for any form of construction.
Another concern among locals is the developers goal to create a resort in a town that does not have adequate affordable housing and is in a worker shortage.
Peter Sullivan, who was viewing the presentation given by EKN earlier this year, asked the question, “How many employees will be required to run the casino and resort with businesses?”
The question echoed the thoughts of many, and now community members all over the basin are fighting to stop the project from going any further.
The NTPA has made a public call to Washoe County to deny permits to the project, pointing out many flaws within the application for grading.
“RATR has changed the 2011 project as originally approved in important and material ways, invalidating the more than decade old TRPA permit,” wrote the NTPA. “The project has been substantially altered and these significant, substantive changes warrant evaluation with a new Environmental Impact Study. The 2008 Traffic Study is now so out of date that its conclusions are no longer applicable, or in any way relevant, to current conditions.”
Demolition of the area is set to begin in April 2022, but nothing is set in stone until there is final approval by the TRPA.
The site provided by EKN Development Group for more information is tahoeluxuryresortandresidences.com.
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