Mammoth’s Clearwater Project Unclear

Councilmember Skip Harvey seems to be on board with the community when it comes to district planning, but he took issue with what he believed to be a Town staff take-over of the process on the Clearwater Project.

Harvey, who was told by Town staff that he would have his chance to comment on the character of a district when the district planning process came before Town Council, said he was appalled at the August 20 Town Council meeting to discover that staff had ramroded the district planning process through without even bringing it to Town Council.

“We have completely skipped the district planning process for the North Old Mammoth Road District and have gone directly to a specific plan,” Harvey stated at last month’s meeting. “Is it proper for the Planning Commission to now be looking at a specific plan (namely Clearwater) before Town Council has had a chance to discuss the district plan?”

The answer was no, and so Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw gave a presentation on the North Old Mammoth Road District Plan, which had its title changed to District Study, to the Town Council at their September 17 meeting.

After listening to staff and the public make comments about the “district study,” while trying to skirt around talking specifically about the Clearwater project, Harvey pointed out that the plan presented was like “putting a comic book [cover] on a playboy.”

He pointed out that parking, transit and mobility should be three things studied in a district plan. Using pictures from Downtown Telluride to make his points, Harvey stated that the height of a project (one of the contentious items surrounding the Clearwater project) is relative to where the project is placed. He pointed to the 35-45-foot tall buildings in Telluride, and then compared them to 50-foot power lines in Mammoth to try to illustrate the proposed height of the Clearwater project, which has asked for 65 feet in some places.

“We have had so many public meetings about the Clearwater and everyone has said not to make it 65 feet, and yet because the consultants provided that number it still remains in the plan,” Harvey said. “If we are going to spend $20,000 on public hearings, we need to learn how to listen,” he added,

The Clearwater project was expected to go before the Planning Commission in the next few weeks, but because Harvey’s presentation and points were made at the close of the Council meeting on September 17, the workshop on the North Old Mammoth Road District will be brought back to the October 1 Council meeting. The public hearing for the Clearwater will have to be pushed back accordingly, Mayor Wendy Sugimura stated.

In other Town Council news, the reformation of the Blue Ribbon Committee for Developer Impact Fees and other fee conditions was approved, with part of their future discussions to include what to do when it comes to fees and non-profit organizations.
The above-mentioned update to the housing element of the General Plan was approved. This element needs to be updated so that the Town can continue to be eligible for state and federal grants related to housing needs. A contract with consultant EDAW was approved at $130,000. However, $18,610 of that contract will be deferred until a scope of work for the project has been created and presented to Council. Another $30,369 of that contract, which will be paid for with Transient Occupancy Tax was earmarked as a loan to be repaid by long-term planning funds. This was due to the political commitment made by a previous Council that TOT was to be used solely to build housing, not to plan for it.

Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Randy Schienle received a 20-year service recognition award for his work. The presentation of the award was made after Schienle finished up a public workshop regarding the Police Department’s operations in which he gave a heads up to the public that the next DUI checkpoint planned for Mammoth was scheduled for September 27, from 6 p.m.-midnight, on Old Mammoth Road next to the Rodeway Inn.

Lastly, a discussion regarding the path alignment for the Lake Mary Road Bike Path, between Lee Road and Bridges Lane (near Ski Run Villas) was rolled over to a special meeting on September 18 because Council ran out of time.

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