Lake Tahoe area facing new development battle

CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — As snow begins to blanket Lake Tahoe, the region finds itself facing a new kind of development battle: green vs. green.

On a ridge overlooking a sparkling, silver-blue bay, Roger Wittenberg has a dream. An inventor and developer, he wants to tear down the cavernous old Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino and replace it with a $140 million eco-friendly resort he says will work environmental miracles by shrinking carbon emissions and reducing the flow of sediment into the lake.

The resort, he added, also will emphasize health, nutrition and nature over gambling — although it would include a small casino.

"We have the opportunity to make the next quantum leap forward," Wittenberg said. "We would like to be that project that (shows) us we can enjoy the lake without harming the lake."

Some environmentalists, who have waged battles against development at Lake Tahoe for decades, and a handful of residents are wary. The proposed Boulder Bay Resort & Wellness Center, they say, will bring even more traffic and pollution to narrow State Route 28 and the dated strip development around Crystal Bay and could even spark a new wave of urbanization.

"We are in a very difficult situation here," said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, at a hearing before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency last week.

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