Mariposa County Board of Supervisors held a meeting Nov. 22 to hear from both the Mariposa County Planning Department and the Yosemite Alpine Community Services District (YACSD) concerning what impact, if any, the easements and infrastructure of the proposed SilverTip Resort in Fish Camp will have for the district.
The planning department has said this project will have no impact, while the chairman of YACSD board of directors Richard Ryon strongly disagrees with that assessment.
This project, dating back to 1999, is planned for 47 acres at the intersection of Highway 41 and Fish Camp Lane, about 600 feet off the highway, and includes a 137 unit hotel with 30 cabins, a restaurant, retailers, tennis courts, pool, three decorative ponds, large conference center plus four smaller centers, and employee apartments.
Towards the end of 2012, Far West Industries / Palm Springs Village -309, LLC purchased the property, and has been working diligently to get this project, with an estimated cost of $36 million, off the ground. The company was issued a grading permit Sept. 7 of this year, and has been working on timber harvest operation (cutting down trees, reducing fuel load).
Back in September, the county’s planning director, Sarah Williams explained that Far West had worked hard to comply with all the county’s conditions, and so were entitled to get their grading permit, the first step in the construction process. That action was appealed by YACSD, forcing the issue before the Board of Supervisors.
According to a story in the Dec. 1 Mariposa Gazette, Assistant Planner Steve Engfer gave a presentation, citing seven points that YACSD made in its appeal, particularly at issue was an utility easement. Engfer told the supervisors that while the developers had negotiated successfully with Pacific Gas & Electric and Sierra Telephone on easement issues, an agreement couldn’t be reached with YACSD. He further recommended that the supervisors deny the appeal request.
Ryon called on the supervisors to overturn the ruling, and added that “there could be a court appeal, depending on what you do.” There were also several letters from Ryon, in which the terms “overtly discourteous” and “the enemy” were used to describe the planning department. He added that the planning department staff was “taking the developer’s side.”
This easement dates back to the 1970s and gives YACSD a 10-foot easement. Ryon advised the supervisors that another well is needed to meet the needs of its members, but the state requires a 50-foot radius to drill a new well, and that should one well go bad, the only solution would be to drill a new one. There are currently two wells on the easement.
Ira Glasky, vice president and general counsel for Far West Industries, parent company to the development group, informed the supervisors that the original plans were changed to accommodate easement access for YACSD, even offering them a site for a third well, but they declined.
In the end, Supervisor Merline Jones made a motion to deny the appeal, which was seconded by Supervisor Rosemarie Smallcombe and passed 5-0.
This decision allows the SilverTip project to move forward. However, because of wintery conditions, grading isn’t expected to begin until spring 2017.
Extensive information on the SilverTip project can be viewed at mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?NID=1425.