80|50 proposed expansion moves toward CEQA review
The proposed “Inn at the Village” project, an expansion of the 80|50 private residence club in the North Village between Canyon Boulevard and Minaret Road in Mammoth, continued to move forward toward California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review after the Dec. 18 Town Council meeting.
The “Inn at the Village” project would add the third and final Building “C” to the 80|50 complex. A new design for the building came before the Planning and Economic Development Commission (PEDC) on Nov. 13. Consultants Severy Realty Group and Bull Stockwell Allen Architects proposed a 70,195 square-foot, 73-room boutique hotel, which would require three amendments to density, height, and setback standards established by the North Village Specific Plan.
As proposed, the project would increase density from 55 to 75 bedrooms per acre, height from the currently approved design of 62 feet to 93.75 feet with an additional 4.5 feet for roof appurtenances, and setback reductions on Minaret Boulevard from 30-40 feet to 25-28 feet.
At the time, members of the PEDC expressed concern about the addition of as many as 36.5 feet to the height of the building. “I see a sheer wall that goes up on the east side and looks too urban to me,” said Commissioner Elizabeth Tenney. “It doesn’t frame the view; it puts a wall on the view.”
On Dec. 13, at the monthly Advisory Design Panel (ADP) meeting, consultants brought back new preliminary sketches addressing this concern. The new sketches lowered the top of the highest roof to 80 feet, pulled the upper level units back from Minaret Road to create the effect of a building stepping away from the street, and dropped the roof height at the northeast corner of the building to 69 feet so that the mass of the building would step down toward Building “B” and the Village.
In addition, the sketches also presented strategies to further “activate” Minaret Road, including a public information kiosk and a pocket park, “art wall” in the site entry structure along Minaret Road, and expansion to the outdoor dining terrace.
According to Associate Planner Jen Daugherty, “the ADP was supportive of the reduced height.” Daugherty went on to clarify that in order to reduce the height, Severy Realty Group and Bull Stockwell Allen Architects eliminated the proposed hotel’s penthouse suites. The room count would be 60 or 61, rather than 73, she said.
Daugherty added that the ADP had further suggestions for the consultants regarding the “activation” strategies on Minaret Road. “There was discussion regarding the functionality of the pocket park and kiosk,” she said. “Concerns about landscaping surviving on the northeast side of this building led to suggestions about extending the Zen garden concept here, or placing artwork [there] instead,” among other suggestions, she said.
The project continued to move forward at Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting, with a unanimous vote to authorize a consulting agreement with RBF Consulting for a preparation of the CEQA review for the “Inn at the Village.” The review would cost about $124,000, all paid for by the project applicant (SFI Mammoth Owner, LP), and would take about 7 months to complete, Daugherty said.
Mayor Rick Wood pointed out that while the CEQA review was necessary because of the height and density amendments requested by the applicant, those height and density amendments haven’t been approved by either the PEDC or the Town Council. In other words, the project applicant might spend $124,000 for amendments that could be denied.
“If those things haven’t been conditionally approved, why is the EIR [Environmental Impact Report, as part of CEQA] done in advance of the formal application, and does that come before Council?” Wood wondered. “Or is that only a Planning Commission decision?”
“The EIR and the project will come before Council,” Jen Daugherty clarified. “And we can’t approve a project until the EIR is certified, so we have to do the EIR and have it certified before taking any action on the project.”
Council approved authorizing the consulting agreement 4-0, with Councilmember Matthew Lehman abstaining as a neighbor to the project.
According to Daugherty, the next public meeting regarding the “Inn at the Village” will be the EIR scoping meeting with the PEDC. “The purpose of scoping is to identify any potential issues before we prepare the draft EIR for public review,” Daugherty said. The scoping meeting will most likely take place in February.