The battle continues over the expansion of Homewood Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled that the $500 million upgrade plans at Homewood ski resort must wait until the completion of a revised environmental impacts study.
While environmentalists were praising the ruling as an important one in the ongoing efforts to protect Lake Tahoe waters and the surrounding area, the Homewood owners were taking a more optimistic outlook.
JMA Ventures has targeted the summer of 2014 or 2015 as the beginning of the expansion. Privately, the owner group feels that goal is still realistic, although the latest ruling may alter the original plans. JMA is contemplating its options.
The project was approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and Placer County in December 2011. The aging 50-year-old resort, located on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, has plans to transform into a destination resort with a four-story hotel, ski-in condominiums, two lodges and retail space.
JMA Ventures feels the ruling favored their concerns in a number of key issues that the environmental groups challenged, including air quality and noise impacts that were inadequately analyzed and land coverage rules violated.
“We are very appreciative of the detailed and comprehensive nature of Judge Shubb’s opinion and while we understand we will need to update a small component of the economic analysis provided to TRPA and the County, the Judge’s denial of all the other issues raised by the plaintiffs provides a clear roadmap for the Homewood project to move forward,” said Art Chapman, Chairman of JMA. “Based on the statement by the plaintiffs on the ruling, we assume they will similarly respect Judge Shubb’s ruling and there will be no further appeals.
“Judge Shubb’s ruling is important, and warrants attention; however, the ruling does nothing to undermine JMA’s resolve to redevelop Homewood into the charming, environmentally sensitive, viable project it has the potential to be,” Chapman added.
Judge Shubb wrote that “this does not necessarily mean that the project or some version of it may not go forward at some point in time.” However, before it can, a “legally adequate” environmental review must be prepared.
Earthjustice law firm represented the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore in the lawsuit filed against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Placer County, Homewood Village Resorts and JMA Ventures, LLC.
“This decision is a reminder that the agencies that are entrusted with protecting beautiful Lake Tahoe, which has already suffered so much from runaway development, must not continue to allow private gain at the lake’s expense,” said Wendy Park, an attorney with Earthjustice.