South Shore estates project still on hold |

South Shore estates project still on hold

by Andy Bourelle

Douglas County’s representative on the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this month will ask for a motion to reconsider a controversial project planned near Burke Creek, Lake Village and Stateline’s Burger King.

After six hours of talks at its meeting last month, the governing board – with three of its 14 voting members missing – had a split vote on whether to agree with the findings TRPA staff had made regarding the South Shore Estates project. The proposal could not move forward.

Don Miner, Douglas County’s commissioner on TRPA’s board, has asked for a motion to reconsider the project.

“We’re going to reconsider the findings,” Miner said. “There were two issues: the findings and the project. If the findings are approved, you listen to the project. The findings flunked the test.

“The original hearing had a lot of anecdotal information and too much underlying intimidation from the California (Attorney General’s) Office,” he added. “It didn’t allow for time for rebuttal from the professional staff of TRPA. It would be appropriate for them to reconsider to hear staff address some of the representations made by some of the people opposed to the project.”

If the motion is approved at the Oct. 27 meeting, it still hasn’t been decided whether the project will be heard that day or in November.

“It’s the same project,” said Larry Hoffman, attorney for the developer. “I think one or more board members are re-thinking their position on it. A motion to reconsider is appropriate.”

If the motion for reconsideration fails, according to TRPA attorney John Marshall, the project could not be called back before the board. It could be altered substantially and be heard again later by the board as technically a different project.

The developer and TRPA’s staff had maintained last month the project complied with all of the agency’s regulations. A group of concerned residents called the Friends of Burke Creek, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the California Attorney General’s Office argued the contrary, saying approving the proposed 26-unit, multi-family condominium development actually went against TRPA’s code and water quality plan.

Some opponents claimed a comprehensive environmental study needed to be completed before the project could be approved.

“It’s not surprising (there is a motion to reconsider),” said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League. “The promoters seem very eager to go forward without taking a close look at the environmental implications. We’re going to fight to make sure the proper steps are taken.

“We support the preparation of an (Environmental Impact Statement) if the project is to go forward at all.”

The developer first proposed the project in late 1997 as a 44 unit development, but he has since changed the plans to 26. The developer and the project’s proponents have maintained that the potential impacts of the project have been more than mitigated, with measures such as restoring Burke Creek.

Opponents, such as the Friends of Burke Creek, have disagreed.

Douglas County has long supported the project. At the last meeting, however, both the League and Friends of Burke Creek asked Miner to recuse himself from the discussions, alleging that he had a biased opinion. Miner denied, saying that while he supported the environmental improvements that would accompany the project, he still had an open mind to other possibilities.

Nason said his request to have it reconsidered underscores the League’s concern about his alleged bias.

“It’s troublesome when a person makes up their mind without the facts,” she said.

Miner disagrees.

“Part of my elected duties are to be an advocate to protect Lake Tahoe,” he said. “I feel the restoration of Burke Creek and necessary environmental improvements associated with the project are benefits. This project has some of the finest environmental mitigation we’ve seen in five years.”


What: TRPA Governing Board meeting

When: Oct. 27, 9:30 a.m.

Where: Tahoe Seasons Resort, Saddle Road at Keller

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