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County approves agreement for Lake Front development

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
updated 3/21/2012

When people start buying new houses again, the developer of a master-planned community on Lake Almanor wants to be ready to sell them.

On Tuesday, March 13, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors approved a development agreement with Lake Almanor Associates LP for a future community on the Lake Almanor Peninsula.

The Lake Front at Walker Ranch, which has been in the works since 2003, took another step toward becoming a reality thanks to the supervisors’ unanimous approval.

But before the vote, Supervisor Lori Simpson asked the developers to explain their reasoning, considering the terrible housing market.

“The economy is so poor. But you are planning ahead in hopes the economy will rebound?” Simpson asked. “... Is that the plan? I mean, it must be.”

Mark Nicholson, speaking on behalf of the project’s owners, said having the development agreement was critical to attract working partners for the project.

“On a project this size, we want to act as the master developer and partner with other people on developing out this project,” Nicholson said. “Nobody wants to partner on a project like this if it has a short window. And so that’s a big reason for the development agreement.”

The development agreement will be set for 15 years. The county can extend it twice at up to 10 years at a time.

The agreement doesn’t provide a specific schedule for development, according to county counsel Craig Settlemire. He said it does require “that the basic infrastructure will be in place by the end of the 15-year first term.”

The developer proposes to build 1,674 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, a 150-room hotel/spa and an 18-hole golf course on a 1,397-acre site on the Peninsula.

The site is adjacent to Bailey Creek and Foxwood to the east, and to the Lake Almanor Country Club to the south.

Lake Front would include 410 acres of open space. It would have its own wastewater treatment plant and recycled-water storage ponds.

The Walker Ranch Community Services District would manage those facilities. Walker Ranch CSD would also manage a water supply system, including a well,

The plan also calls for roadways and storm drainage infrastructure.

The Lake Front development will include about 100 units that are designed to be “affordable housing.” Nicholson said, considering the market conditions, the affordable homes could be the first ones built.

“That would be one of the first areas we focus on, to see if we can do something short-term,” Nicholson said. “If the market’s not ready to go forward right now, I would hope that in the next 12 to 24 months it is.

“Real estate seems to be recovering. If you are in the Bay Area, it is booming. And usually it is the high-density areas that recover first, and then it moves on out to other areas.”

The supervisors approved the development agreement after no one spoke during the public hearing.

The final environmental impact report was completed in 2009.

That report was appealed. The supervisors held a public hearing in February 2010 and denied the appeal, thereby certifying the environmental impact report.

There have been no appeals to stop the project since then.


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