Politics in Mammoth Lakes have ratcheted up a notch. Town Council Candidate Kirk Stapp has figured prominently in the formal appeal of the big development project, Old Mammoth Place. Council Candidate Tony Barrett accused Stapp and another unnamed candidate of grand-standing for the June 8 election with this appeal.
Kirk Stapp, who is one of 40 Mammoth people who signed the appeal, said that it’s a matter of the survival of the town and adhering to important policies like housing needs, developer impact fees, water and air quality concerns.
Old Mammoth Place will mean 488 lodging rooms, 8 workforce housing units, and many thousands of square feet of retail, restaurant and other uses. The project did gain double density in exchange for amenities, and the project will create an estimated 378 new jobs. Stapp and others who appealed contend that the approval of Old Mammoth Place by the Planning Commission did not provide the level or type of analysis required by Town policy.
The appeal alleges that the project failed to meet General Plan requirements for identification of community benefits and approval of density increases, failed to make findings required under town policy, failed to identify community benefits required under the Clearwater plan, and failed to comply with CEQA analysis.
Stapp said, “I am shocked that the Town Council used the Community Benefit/ Incentive Zoning policy for this project. The
policy, Stapp says, contradicts town code. On the other side of this squabble, Planning Commissioner/ Council Candidate Tony Barrett accuses Stapp and others of failing to take part in the long public process on this project. Barrett takes his own political shot when he said leaders don’t operate this way.
Council Candidate Rick Wood did go on the record that he supports the appeal. Wood said he opposed the Old Mammoth Place project a year ago and still opposes it. He said that the project is not consistent with the General Plan. Wood said the Town Council failed to adopt zoning regulations which match the updated General Plan. He attacks the Community Benefits policy as causing officials to negotiate the value of community benefits on the fly.
Wood believes the Council has failed to provide, with a single voice, specific direction to its appointed Planning Commission members regarding what it (the Council) considers to be an appropriate trade of community benefits in exchange for housing mitigation fees and development impact fees. The result appears to be a staff and consultant-driven deal, said Wood, by which benefits which appear to benefit the developer are being sold to the community as benefits for all.
Tony Barrett says that the Planning Commission “considered and included language in the ‘Conditions of Approval’ regarding the requests of MCWD and MLH. He also points to what he considers to be a critical issue – Mammoth’s growth and economy. Barrett stated, “The Old Mammoth Place approval demonstrates we are not the black-eyed resort in the financial and resort markets.” He says interference with this project could set mammoth back many years
The politicos have rolled up their sleeves for round one.