Snag in Kirkwood’s expansion projects |

Snag in Kirkwood’s expansion projects

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Kirkwood Mountain Resort will face the Amador County Board of Supervisors next month with expansion plans to accommodate 80 housing units targeted at the meadow off Highway 88.

The expansion of Kirkwood Meadows came into question last week when supervisors approved an elevation limit that allows single-family homes and condominiums to be built for the resort’s ski-in, ski-out project planned on the west side of the meadow.

This mandate, however, placed at least 40 proposed units in jeopardy.

The issue was to be heard May 20, but Kirkwood asked that it be postponed until June 3 to allow for enough time to come up with a redesign the supervisors are more likely to accept.

Elevation limits of 7,975 feet for the south end of the project and 7,900 for the north end of the project were set, said Supervisor Richard Vinson. The reason was to accommodate residents’ concerns that the dwellings would bring on erosion, avalanche, scenic and traffic problems.

The area in question where 40 homes are proposed is situated above 8,000 feet.

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Vinson said he received 85 e-mails on the subject. Many people wrote that they didn’t want homes built in the area, or wanted a compromise.

Some people who live in the county fear the buildup may change the remote, isolated nature of the area, he said.

“This was a compromise. If they have to build homes up there, they have to build roads up there,” he said.

In order to meet the elevation requirement, engineers are going over the plans to see if the roads can be redesigned to accommodate the building.

“That’s up to them. I don’t want to stop development,” Vinson said regarding Kirkwood’s latest idea to change the master plan.

Of the 1,413 housing units approved in its more than $20 million master plan in 1971, half of them have been built. Two hundred thirteen of these units left are located in Amador County. The resort is split between Alpine and Amador counties.

The ski-in, ski-out project to be constructed next to Kirkwood Meadows encompasses 80 single-family houses and condos.

Kirkwood contends the 150 units already built in that area sit at an elevation of 8,010 feet, and its environmental impact report mentioned no significant erosion or avalanche patterns.

“We already have a benchmark established,” Kirkwood Mountain Resort President Tim Cohee said. “(Vinson) drew a line in the sand.”

Although Cohee said the resort wants to work with supervisors, he stopped short of confirming whether Kirkwood would challenge the mandate in court. He also considered the $1 million projected in property tax revenue from the units as a bonus for the county.

Moreover, Kirkwood Chief Executive Officer Gary Derck, the project developer, said the resort has already accommodated concerns from the residents when it moved its plan to build along Highway 88 off the scenic corridor.

“The residents were quite against that,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at