Tahoe housing development approved | NevadaAppeal.com

Tahoe housing development approved

Nevada Appeal News Service

STATELINE – Despite opposition from environmentalists, a regulatory agency has approved the construction of a six-acre housing project on Lake Tahoe’s south shore.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s governing board on Wednesday backed Sierra Colina Village, which will feature 21 duplexes and eight single-family houses in Stateline.

Supporters said the project would exceed current environmental requirements and labeled it a prototype for future development at Tahoe.

It includes easements for bike trails, dedication of a stream environment zone as permanent open space and a project with Douglas County to ease stormwater runoff problems.

“People see this as a hope for the future of Lake Tahoe,” said Gary Midkiff, a project consultant and former TRPA executive director.

But environmentalists complained about allowing new development when Tahoe’s famed clarity is still in decline.

They cited studies showing fine sediment particles in urban runoff need to be reduced by 71 percent from 2004 levels for Tahoe to reach its historic 100 feet of clarity.

“That means we have to uncover land, not cover it,” said Roger Rosenberger, chair of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club Group.

Rosenberger questioned how effective the project’s stormwater filtration system would be at removing fine sediments from runoff.

Andrew Strain, Heavenly Mountain Resort’s vice president of mountain operations, praised developers’ inclusion of nine moderate-income housing units in Sierra Colina.

The units, which would cost no more than $337,000, would help keep the resort’s mid-level managers in the community, Strain said.

“I urge you to approve the project,” Strain told the board. “It’s good for the economy, the environment and the community.”

Board member Norma Santiago said the possibility of a large estate being built on the parcel “weighed heavily” on her mind in approving the project.

Board member Steven Merrill, who voted against the development, said more stringent requirements should be placed on it because current ordinances have proven ineffective in protecting the lake.

An update to TRPA’s regional plan was originally scheduled for completion in 2007, but has been repeatedly delayed.

TRPA legal counsel Nicole Rinke said it was “probably not legally defensible” to require projects to go above and beyond what is currently required in the code.