Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 • County asked to rescind Dyer Mountain approvals

Sierra Pacific Industries, the owner of Dyer Mountain, once the site of a proposed four-season resort near Westwood, has asked the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to rescind its previous approvals for the project, including the development agreement.

The new owners of Dyer Mountain have asked the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to hold a public hearing and rescind resolutions it passed approving the use of the property as a four-season resort and a residential and business community located near Westwood and Clear Creek.

The public and all interested parties are invited to attend a public hearing scheduled for 10:15 a.m. today, Tuesday, Jan. 21, during the Lassen County Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

According to a notice of public hearing from the Lassen County Clerk, “The current owner (Sierra Pacific Industries) does not intend to pursue development of the approved project and has requested that the prior approvals be rescinded.”

Last year SPI purchased the property — about 7,000 acres — during bankruptcy proceedings and paid Lassen County about $3.35 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.

SPI asks the county to adopt a resolution to rescind resolutions certifying the environmental impact report on the project, a subdivision map application and the developer agreement.

According to the notice of public hearing, “The previously approved development agreement was intended to guide development of the project and ensure implementation of the mitigation measures identified in the EIR.”

According to Rick Crabtree, special counsel for Lassen County on the Dyer Mountain matter, “SPI is the current property owner, and they’ve asked the county to rescind those approvals, so that’s what we’re recommending.”

Crabtree predicted the action by the board of supervisors could ultimately impact the litigation the county faces from environmental groups regarding the Dyer Mountain project.

“If all the approvals are rescinded, we will ask the court of appeal to dismiss the appeal as moot because all the approvals challenged in the lawsuit won’t exist any more,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree said when SPI purchased the Dyer Mountain property, it assumed the development agreement from Dyer Management, including the obligation to defend the lawsuit by the environmental groups.

“It came with the package,” Crabtree said. “They bought the bundle of rights and obligations from Dyer Management,” Crabtree said. “The development agreement indicates their obligation to defend the litigation survives the termination of the development agreement, and we’ve just confirmed that with a simple contract … The development agreement is canceled in all respects, except for their obligation to defend the litigation.”

Crabtree said he expects the board to discuss the status of the litigation in closed session, and then take action to rescind its approvals in open session following the public hearing at the board’s meeting this morning.

In 1968, Lassen County’s General Plan identified four possible locations for skiing facilities in Lassen County, including Dyer Mountain. In 1991, a county feasibility study found Dyer Mountain could be developed into an exceptional and economically feasible ski facility. In 2000, nearly 63 percent of local voters approved an initiative modifying the county’s general plan and zoning ordinance to authorize the development of Dyer Mountain. The project, which faces legal challenges from the environmental groups as well as financial pressures and bankruptcy proceedings, was never developed.