Royal Gorge at odds with grand jury |

Royal Gorge at odds with grand jury

A planned 950-unit development surrounding Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort continues to face skeptics, but its owners are forging ahead with their plans.

The concerns about the project range from treating wastewater to changing the quiet tenor of rural life.

This week a county grand jury report said Donner Summit’s public utilities district “discharges wastewater” into the South Yuba River most of the year, and it urged officials to carefully weigh the consequences of entering into future agreements with developers.

“Royal Gorge has held preliminary discussions with (the district) regarding expansion of the wastewater treatment facility to service the proposed development,” according to the grand jury report.

But project manager Mike Livak said no decision has been made about how waste from the project will be treated. “We cannot explain why Royal Gorge is mentioned,” Livak said in a statement.

For 10 months of the year, the Donner Summit utilities district discharges 500,000 gallons of wastewater into the South Yuba River each day with the capacity to expand to 800,000 gallons by 2010, according to the grand jury report.

The practice “poses a threat to the beneficial use of the river,” the report said.

Livak questioned if the grand jury is qualified to make such statements.

“Royal Gorge is not aware that DSPUD discharges wastewater into the Yuba River. DSPUD discharges treated effluent. We are not aware of the Nevada County grand jury’s regulatory authority or expertise relating to water quality,” Livak said.

The report is a reminder that people are taking a step back to look at development on the summit, said Tom Mooers, executive director of Sierra Watch. The group has been actively engaged in a campaign to protect the region and has been critical of the proposed development.

A set of planning principals for the summit drafted by Sierra Watch has been gaining support from a number of businesses in the region, Mooers said.

One business owner, Cheryl Paduano of the Soda Springs General Store, said she is concerned how new development will impact traffic, but otherwise is neutral about the project.

She would like to see the natural beauty and history of the region preserved as the community looks at ways to attract visitors to the scenic historic drive, Highway 40.

“We could use some revival up here,” Paduano said.

The store is a hub where locals can buy “Save Donner Summit” bumper stickers or to pick up a response letter at the counter from developers Todd Foster and Kirk Syme

“I think Foster and Syme are doing everyone a favor by having public meetings,” Paduano said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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