Martin Point Subdivision
On May 8, 2007, the Amador County Planning Commission approved the tentative map for the Martin Point subdivision on a 3-1 vote. They did so despite Foothill Conservancy providing ample evidence that Kirkwood is not fully complying with the conditions of approval for its specific plan.
Martin Point (formerly known as Ski-In, Ski-Out North) proposes 33 single-family homes and one duplex unit. It is part of the 215 single and multifamily units of Amador County development proposed in the 2003 Kirkwood Specific Plan. The full tricounty plan allows more than 6,500 residents at Kirkwood.
Addressing the planning commmission, Kirkwood Mountain Resort representative Nate Whaley acknowledged that Kirkwood isn't "perfect." He then attempted to blame the developers' lack of compliance on lack of enforcement by public agencies. He noted that each agency has mechanisms to "force compliance."
Earlier this year, the state Department of Fish and Game recommended that Kirkwood be prosecuted for a criminal violation of state law related to muddy runoff into streams last fall (see photos, below). Still, Whaley characterized Kirkwood's condition violations as "relatively minor."
District 4 Commissioner Andy Byrne suggested that the county wait six months before approving Martin Point to see if a new mitigation monitoring program actually works on the ground (violations have been reported as recently as March). Byrne noted that Kirkwood has an obligation to comply with the conditions of approval required by the county. But the other commissioners focused on the county's enforcement of those conditions.
District 5 Commissioner Ray Ryan remarked that enforcement has been an issue "countywide," but said that county staff should be allowed to do their jobs and enforce the Kirkwood conditions. Ryan stated, "If total failure occurs, at that point the Board of Supervisors will need to make changes." Ryan also said the county should not use past errors as the basis for keeping projects from going forward.
Even though Foothill Conservancy presented evidence of water quality violations continuing after the new monitoring program began, Commission Chairman John Gonsalves said, "It sounds to me like our staff and enforcement agencies are taking necessary steps to monitor and gain compliance. It sounds like they're doing a pretty good job."
District 3 Commissioner Denise Tober seemed to think the size of the Martin Point subdivision made it less than significant. She pointed out that it was not as large as the big projects being proposed in Amador County's cities. At buildout, Kirkwood's combined Alpine and Amador population will be larger than any city in Amador County today.
In the end, Ryan, Tober and Gonsalves voted for the project. Byrne voted to oppose. Barry Risberg, the one commissioner who participated in the lengthy specific plan review in 2002 and 2003, was absent.