Environmentalists and developers have reached
an agreement over two major projects planned for scenic Martis
Valley near Lake Tahoe.
The pact will allow construction of an upscale Sierra golf
course and residential community while raising more than $72
million to preserve open space and provide housing for workers in
The settlement between developer DMB/Highlands and conservation
groups Sierra Watch and the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation
ends a two-year-old legal dispute over the Siller and Hopkins
ranches south of Truckee.
Under the deal announced Wednesday, developers agreed to abandon
plans for 65 exclusive homes and an 18-hole golf course on the
Hopkins Ranch. Instead, the 280-acre property will be reserved for
open space and deed-restricted homes affordable to the area's work
In return, the 2,100-acre Siller Ranch project would go forward
with 653 upscale homes and an 18-hole golf course. Plans for a
second Par 3 golf course on the property were dropped.
Developers also agreed to impose a conveyance fee for home sales
and resales on the Siller property, with money going to preserve
open space, restore habitat and build work force housing. The fee
is expected to raise more than $72 million over 25 years.
"It's much more than a settlement, it's really an agreement for
our future," said Eneas Kane of DMB/Highlands.
David Welch, president of Sierra Watch, said revenue raised
through the conveyance fee will provide widespread benefits for a
sensitive mountain environment.
"The true value will only be seen in the years and generations
to come," Welch said. "It's a better future for Martis, a better
future for the Tahoe-Truckee region and a better future for the
The agreement is similar to others affecting development in the
Martis Valley, a scenic stretch of woods and meadows between
Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
Plans to build at least 6,000 new homes and several golf courses
in the area resulted in widespread criticism by environmentalists,
lawsuits and subsequent efforts to reach compromise.
East-West Partners, another major Martis developer, agreed last
year to raise $30 million over 25 years to preserve open space,
among other things. East-West is building 212 condominium units and
a commercial complex at the Village at Northstar, and announced
plans Wednesday to build a Ritz-Carlton Hotel and another 1,450
condo units at the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort.