Hearing on Almanor development postponed

Delaine Fragnoli
Managing Editor

    Winter weather and road conditions forced postponement Tuesday, Jan. 19, of a public hearing about the Lake Front at Walker Ranch project at Lake Almanor.
    County supervisors were set to hear an appeal of the planning departmentís approval of the environmental review document for the development. When the developerís representative, the appellants and an environmental consultant could not make it to the meeting in Quincy because of last weekís winter storm, the board tentatively moved the hearing to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2.
    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 Lake Almanor 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 also include 410 acres of open space, its own wastewater treatment plant and recycled-water storage pondsóto be managed by the Walker Ranch Community Services Districtóa water supply system including wells, also to be managed by Walker Ranch CSD, and roadways and storm drainage infrastructure.
    The development has been in the works since 2003, when Lake Almanor Associates filed an application with Plumas County. The environmental review process spanned March 2004 through August 2009.
    Zoning Administrator Randy Wilson held a public meeting Oct. 21, 2009, to announce he was ìcertifying,î or approving as adequate, the environmental impact report for the project.
    Bruce Thayer of Lake Almanor and David Brayshaw of Westwood appealed that decision Oct. 30.
    In their appeal, the men claim the EIR does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act; it does not constitute a good-faith, full-disclosure of the environmental impacts of the project; and the mitigation measures are not sufficient.
    They argue the EIR does not adequately address cumulative impacts and question its treatment of topics ranging from air pollution to Native American sites, water quality and sufficiency, community services and deforestation.
    Thayer and Brayshaw also say county approval of the development would violate the terms of its General Plan extension from the state. While the county is updating its General Plan, the extension prohibits planning decisions that could eliminate planning options that should be available for consideration during the update process.
    For example, Wilson ruled in June 2009 that the county could not approve a subdivision in the Sierra Valley because minimum parcel size has been a recurring issue for the Sierra Valley and ìthere is reason to believe that parcel size (under a new General Plan) will be different than todayís sizes.î
    In its report to the Board of Supervisors, the planning staff refutes Thayer and Brayshawís arguments as not specific enough or as having already been addressed in the EIR.
    Staff is recommending the board deny the appeal and affirm Wilsonís certification of the EIR.

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