By Kathryn Reed
For the time being, the 15.5 acres near the Fox and the Hound restaurant on Tramway Way will remain vacant.
Last month the Douglas County commissioners voted 3-1 to nix the 40-unit Sierra Sunrise condo project. Commissioner Kelly Kite voted yes, while Commissioner Dave Brady was absent.
This was the second time this year that Carlsbad-based Rancho Pacific owners Fred Totah and Roy Salameh asked the commissioners to approve the project.
One parcel is 12.25 acres designated forest and range where one dwelling could be built. The other 3.25 acres are equipped for 39 multifamily residential units. County code allows planned development to combine the two parcels to better use both sites.
The divisive issue was that the architects only designed one way into the development. Even though the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District wrote a letter saying that’s fine, three of the commissioners completely disagreed.
Commissioner Nancy McDermid questioned what would happen if the intersection of Tramway and Kingsbury Grade were blocked and emergency vehicles needed to get in. Because no one from the fire department was at the meeting, those types of questions were left unanswered.
The fire issue is one reason the project got nixed 5-0 the first time. The developers came back with a new design that had the height of the structures reduced by 15 and 25 feet. This appeased the commissioners who didn’t like the original 100-foot roof line.
McDermid said the project had several green building elements the county likes, but that she couldn’t get past having only one access road.
Douglas County Principal Planner Harmon Zuckerman said the applicants can appeal the decision in court. Per county rules, to see the commissioners again within the next 12 months the project will have to have major revisions. Zuckerman isn’t sure what the property owners will do.