Project 3 moves ahead despite bad news |

Project 3 moves ahead despite bad news

Michael Schneider

An important step in beginning Redevelopment Project 3 was undertaken Tuesday when the South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission and city council certified the final Environmental Impact Reports for the project.

Although the mood of the public hearing was positive, Jim Jordan, of Balloffet & Associates, who drafted the EIR, had potentially bad news for the time line of a part of Project 3.

Jordan said the ground on which Tahoe Tom’s gas station sits, on which the Project C hotel would be built, is contaminated with MTBE from leaky underground gas tanks.

Jordan said, in a worst-case scenario, it could take 10 years to clean up the site.

The Project A and B components of Project 3, which include a day care center, retail shopping and hotels, are scheduled to break ground in 2000.

Project C is scheduled to follow in 2001.

“What we first saw to be a minor problem could be something significant,” Jordan said.

He said the problem could delay the Project C portion, but wouldn’t likely delay the other parts of the project or the Park Avenue Project scheduled to begin next spring across the street.

After a comment period from January to April, several changes were made to the original draft. A few last-minute changes were also made at the joint planning commission/city council meeting Tuesday.

Attorney Lew Feldman, who represents the Project 3 proponents, asked that the final EIR draft not require the project proponents to be solely responsible for the storm water drainage basin to be constructed as part of Project 3.

“As it is written now, it looks like the proponents have a gun to their heads,” Feldman said.

Feldman also asked, should nitrate levels not fall to acceptable levels within a year of construction, that the project proponents be allowed to stop using fertilizer instead of replacing 50 percent of the non-native vegetation as the final report requires.

The council and planning commission agreed to these conditions.

Former city attorney Dennis Crabb, representing the Viking Motor Lodge owners, asked that his clients be consulted before the final storm drain plans are laid. The Viking Lodge is a tentative spot for the drain.

The council and commission also agreed to this.

Resident Bill Crawford addressed the two boards, telling them the city has poured lots of money into storm drains and redevelopment projects to improve the basin’s environment.

“Look at the last 10 years, it hasn’t worked,” Crawford said.

Both Tom Davis and Kevin Cole, council members, disagreed, saying mitigations have been beneficial to the environment and it would take time for the benefits to be realized.

Project 3 and the Park Avenue Project would revamp 55 acres of the state line area of South Lake Tahoe. The projects would include a gondola to Heavenly Ski Resort, several hotels, restaurants and retail shops, a convention center, an underground walkway to Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino and a miniature replica of Lake Tahoe.

The Environmental Impact Report and Statement must now go before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board for approval.

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