Earlier this month the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the Environmental Impact Reports (EIR/EIS) for phase 1 of Homewood Mountain Resort's Master Plan. This Wednesday the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board seconded the approval with a unanimous vote. Homewood’s New Digs | Placer & TRPA Approve JMA’s Development Plans | CCEC Files Lawsuit | Unofficial Networks

Homewood's New Digs | Placer & TRPA Approve JMA's Development Plans | CCEC Files Lawsuit

Homewood's New Digs | Placer & TRPA Approve JMA's Development Plans | CCEC Files Lawsuit

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Homewood's New Digs | Placer & TRPA Approve JMA's Development Plans | CCEC Files Lawsuit

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Homewood Hotel pic 5

Homewood Hotel Entrance (Image: skihomewood.com)

Earlier this month the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the Environmental Impact Reports (EIR/EIS) for phase 1 of Homewood Mountain Resort’s Master Plan. This Wednesday the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board seconded the approval with a unanimous vote.

In matters of public oversight, the TRPA’s decision on the issue could be the final hurdle JMA needs to jump before moving forward with their impressive $500 million dollar project to revitalize Homewood Mountain Resort and transform the quaint and homely ski hill into a modern four season destination resort and recreation hub on Lake Tahoe’s West shore.

Homewood Ampetheater pic 4

Homewood Ampitheater (Image: skihomewood.com)

The original draft EIR/EIS for the project was published on January 21, 2011, and the public comment period extended through April 21. The final EIR/EIS was released on October 3, 2011. The debate over the scope and implications of the project for the West Shore and the Lake Tahoe community at large has ruffled feathers and raised eyebrows basin wide, drawing both ire and praise from a myriad of parties.

Art Chapman, CEO of JMA Ventures, the San Francisco based development company that bought Homewood in 2006, has placed a great deal of emphasis on the project’s attention to concerns raised by residents and the efforts made by the company to develop the resort in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Over 1800 public comments were received during the review process and JMA proposes that the company has bent over backwards to accommodate the contributions of the public to the discussion and planning of the development. Not all of the project’s dissenters however, have been satisfied with JMA’s proposals. On December 6, the California Clean Energy Committee (CCEC), a California non-profit corporation, filed a lawsuit attempting to force a retraction of Placer County’s approval of the EIR/EIS pending further investigation of the development’s impacts on the region. (Full text from the complaint filed can be found Here)

The complaint cites a number of concerns related to the thoroughness of the EIR/EIS in evaluating issues of traffic congestion, energy consumption, air quality impacts, and emergency evacuation plans in the proposal, suggesting that the EIR/EIS fails to comply with guidelines set by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

According to statements made to a Lake Tahoe News reporter at the TRPA meeting on Wednesday, the defendants (presumably Placer County representatives) are not concerned by the lawsuit and believe that the allegations of the suit are adequately addressed by the existing EIR/EIS. The complaint represents many of the same concerns about the development that have been debated for the duration of the project’s proposal. A number of individuals are opposed to the scale of the development on the West Shore and would prefer to see the area retain it’s “old Tahoe” sensibilities and lifestyle. A majority of the comments however, made during the recent TRPA meeting were in fact supportive of the development proposal, mostly on the basis of potential economic benefits to the region.

Homewood development plan: illustration pic 7

Homewood Base Area Master Plan: illustration (Image: skihomewood.com)

JMA’s planned development of the Base Lodge areas calls for:

Lodging including:

  • A 5-star boutique hotel with 75 rooms
  • Approximately 30 individually-owned penthouse units (top floor)
  • 56 individually owned residential condominiums
  • 47 multi-family condominiums
  • 48 ski-in/ski-out chalets
  • 13 on-site workforce housing apartments for full-time employees; and
  • A Lodge with a full service restaurant, spa, fitness facility and meeting space

Up to 15,000 square feet of retail space designed to include:

  • Grocery store / Deli
  • Hardware store
  • Ice cream parlor/coffee shop
  • Pedestrian walkways and ice skating pond

(They’ve made a big point about the fact that the retail portion of the Base Lodge would only include a deli, a hardware store, and an ice cream parlor, per the requests of the West Shore community)

A new state-of-the-art base mountain facility including:

  • Food and beverage services
  • Ski school
  • Rental shop
  • Lockers
  • Administrative and operations offices

Parking

  • Underground parking for lodging
  • Three-level day skier parking structure surrounded by shop space and employee housing
  • Limited surface parking (for retail/guest drop-off)
Mid Mountain Lodge: digital rendering (image: skihomewood.com)

Mid Mountain Lodge: digital rendering (Image: skihomewood.com)

On Mountain Developments:

Mid-Mountain Lodge:

  • 14,000 sq ft day lodge with gondola terminal
  • Food and beverage facility
  • Outdoor dining
  • Small sundry outlet shopping
  • Outdoor swimming facility for Summer months
  • Service vehicle shop/maintenance facility

Lift Modifications:

  • The quad fixed grip chair was replaced by a high speed detachable quad in 2007
  • Old Madden Chair to be reblaced by 8 passenger gondola running from the North Base to the new Mid Mountain Lodge
  • The Quail Chair will remain in place
  • Ellis Chair will need to be replaced in the not too distant future
1 PAOTS Table Homewood development

Changes to lift service capacity

  • Based on the PAOTS chart it also looks like the Platter lifts will no longer be opperated.
homewood trail map

Homewood trail map (Image: skihomewood.com)

JMA has presented the development project not only as environmentally sound, but in many cases has suggested that the development acts as a restoration project. Proposed best management practices (BMPs) related to runoff and erosion are predicted to ultimately reduce the sediment loads to the lake by 154,000 pounds per year and impermeable land coverage is actually supposed to be reduced by 235,000 sq ft as a result of the new development.

The increased snowmaking system which would be powered by generators is presented as an added tool for firefighters to battle possible burns in the area. Improved plans for forest fuels management are also being implemented.

And all of the buildings are being built to satisfy LEED gold certifications for construction.

Even though JMA has done just about everything that could be expected from a regulatory perspective to mitigate the impacts of the development, critics of the project remain. Homewood Mountain Resort received low marks in a recent environmental assessment of the resort released by the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition, placing 19th out 19 resorts evaluated. The report listed concerns about the development of undisturbed lands, air quality impacts, increases in water and power consumption related to snow making and buildings, and a groundwater interception related to the development of underground parking facilities among other things. (click here to see the environmental report card)

Homewood from Lake Looking West

Homewood from the lake (Image: skihomewood.com)

Despite all of the concerns, much of what has been said about this project suggests that it will be environmentally responsible and will also be good for the local economy. It will create 500 construction jobs and 180 year-round positions, and Chapman expects to add nearly $7 million to the tax rolls, and between $16 million and $20 million to the West and North shore economies on an annual basis.

Provided that financing, final designs, and permits are secured, JMA expects to break ground on the project in the Summer of 2014. JMA’s plans and Chapman’s dreams for the resort may not end with the present proposals. 

In an article by Lake Tahoe News it was said that Chapman one day hopes to be able to ski between Homewood, Alpine Meadows, and Squaw Valley. With JMA Ventures and KSL Capital Partners joining together to create Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, this possibility is not as far fetched as it once was. The land between Homewood and Alpine however is managed by numerous governing bodies and could possibly require a great deal more effort to connect the two than for instance the proposed connection between Alpine and Squaw.

Either way, for any of these grand plans to be a possibility, the current developments must first be seen through, but the gears are certainly turning right now in Tahoe.

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