Tuesday, April 18, 2006 • Dyer Mountain Associates move one step closer to breaking ground on four-season resort

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 18, 2006, edition of the Lassen County Times.

No one will say when the public can see more detailed environmental studies of traffic and air quality issues raised by the proposed Dyer Mountain Resort in Westwood.

But Dyer Mountain Associates still plans to break ground this summer on the four-season resort near Westwood.

The two expanded sections of the resort environmental impact report are now undergoing administrative review, Nick Ceaglio, of Dyer Mountain Associates, told the Lassen County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 28.

Experts are checking every detail of the two more detailed studies because the final document must be as close to perfect as possible to answer all environmental questions that might arise concerning the resort. Ceaglio said peer experts will return comments “within several weeks” and the final EIR will be delivered at a later date “sometime before June of this year,” Ceaglio predicted.

He said DMA and 15 consultants, architects and land planners gathered for a three-day design meeting in Westwood the third week in March. Ceaglio said golf course designers BSA, Architects of San Francisco and Don Vida Design attended.  Ceaglio added DMA plans a managed conservancy to preserve forests and wildlife. He said the biggest effect of the conservancy will be to bring the most dense concentration of homes, apartments and condominiums back into the village core to create more parks and trail systems.

He said DMA is considering several different proposed designs and may choose a final approach within the next month. Ceaglio said DMA still plans to break ground this summer and start road building, work on bridges and timber removal on the mountain.

Board Chairman Bob Pyle said he met with some of the designers face-to-face and “things are becoming very real.” He said the land planners are very sharp and look like some of the best.

In January, Lassen County planners asked the board for permission to recirculate the transportation and air quality sections of the draft environmental impact report after they and the county’s consultant very carefully reviewed each of the 85 comments the county received on the draft EIR before the comment period closed on June 10, 2005.

Joe Bertotti, assistant director of the Lassen County Community Development Department, told the board more detailed reports were needed because the comments generated so much new information.

Once the two expanded sections are released to the public, people will have 45 days to provide additional comments on transportation and air quality issues raised in the draft EIR.

After the comment period ends and the county and the consultants address any new comments, the county will release the final EIR. In January, Ceaglio told the Susanville Rotary Club DMA is aware of opposition to the project from the Mountain Meadows Conservancy and its recent connection to Sierra Watch, a Tahoe-area group.

He reminded Rotary members almost 63 percent of voters county-wide approved a November 2000 ballot initiative that asked if the General Plan, Zoning Ordinance and Westwood Area Plan should be amended to provide for development of the four-season resort.

Ceaglio told the Westwood Chamber of Commerce members in late January that timber harvesting will most likely begin this summer with partial clearing for ski runs on Dyer Mountain and in staging areas, such as the site of the ski lodge.

In the winter of 2006-07, he said, commercial Cat skiing will be available during which people will be transported to the top of the mountain for a fee so they can ski or snowboard it. Ceaglio said Cat skiing provides people with an opportunity to experience the mountain early on, provide feedback on the runs and it creates interest in the future resort.