Jason Shueh of the Tahoe Daily Tribune reports:
“NORTHSTAR-AT-TAHOE, Calif. — In an effort to better involve the community and respond to criticism, resort officials are holding off on a proposal for an alpine coaster that is drawing environment and noise concerns from surrounding neighbors.
Jessica VanPernis, communication manager for Booth Creek Ski Holdings (which manages Northstar), announced the decision Tuesday, saying the resort has made contact and will continue to communicate with property owners, including the Northstar Property Owners Association, to educate them on project developments.
“Already, Booth Creek and Northstar Resort have asked Placer County officials to put the application on hold while we meet with the community to better explain the project and attempt to address their questions and concerns,” VanPernis said in a Tuesday e-mail.
“This is in no way something we’re trying to ‘cram through the process’ without first receiving input from our local community,” VanPernis continued. “We want to ensure the community completely understands the proposal before any final decisions are made, and allow for a dialogue, as was always the plan.
On Friday, Placer County deputy planning director Paul Thompson said staff, after reviewing Booth Creek’s environmental questionnaire, determined more information is needed to make initial approval of the coaster, described as a two-person toboggan that would be controlled by riders and reach speeds of up to 25 mph.
“Our determination is that we need more information and that the application is incomplete,” Thompson said.
After consulting with staff, Thompson said he will make known what specific areas of information Booth Creek needs to provide if it does decide to continue with the proposal.
In a previous interview, Thompson gave examples of studies it could require, such as a biological assessment or a wetlands study.
Thompson said the planning department has heard a large amount of feedback from homeowners in the area.
“We’ve received many, many e-mails from homeowners who are opposed to the project,” he said.
One of those opposed is Brian West, an NPOA member and civil engineer who recently wrote a letter to Mike Wells, Placer County’s supervising planner, to alert him of a nearby NPOA Recreation Center that West said would be located near the coaster’s start and finish area.
West said he thinks Booth Creek’s initial noise report — which deemed the coaster to be within Placer County’s code— is faulty as it did not consider the recreation center’s proximity to the coaster; statistically, West said the report was not representative of Booth Creek’s proposed coaster.
“At a minimum, we request Placer County require additional noise testing and assessment, as well as noise mitigation measures as a condition of permit approval,” West wrote.
VanPernis said the resort never intended to begin construction on May 2010, the date originally given in its environmental questionnaire. A timeline for what is next currently is unclear.
“Booth Creek and Northstar Resort are in conversation with NPOA presently to outline how best to work together to provide this information to the community,” VanPernis said in Tuesday’s e-mail. “We are committed to explaining our intentions and needs of this project to the community, and to dispelling the notion that we aren’t interested in public comment with regard to this proposal, as that is not the case.”