Developers of a proposed $100 million four-season resort on Cascade Reservoir have a busy year ahead creating a master plan for Valbois.
But many obstacles remain ahead before the project becomes a reality.Boise National Forest officials gave preliminary approval Thursday to Valbois developers, allowing them to proceed with the detailed planning of a four-season resort including ski lifts, marina and other amenities.
"I'm pleased we're going to have the opportunity to move ahead," said Dennis Taggart, a Boise architect and chairman of Valift Inc., the operating subsidiary of Valbois.
Boise Forest Supervisor David Rittersbacher said he has issued a special-use permit to Valift Inc., a subsidiary of Valbois Inc.
The permit orders Valift developers to write a master plan addressing all the social, economic and environmental issues associated with the resort development in one year's time.
If the master plan is approved, construction must start within six months, and the project would be completed in three years, or sometime in 1994.
Planning is anticipated to cost Valift up to $5 million.
"Now we're going to try to get all the jurisdictional entities working together to thoroughly explore the feasibility of the project from a very site-specific standpoint," Rittersbacher said.
Valbois officials seek to use 2,800 acres of national forest land for a ski area, and 120 acres of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation land for a marina, restaurant, hotel and tennis complex.
The project also would include an equestrian center, ice rink, health and fitness center, 18-hole golf course, condominiums, international hotels and at least 50 shops.
If approved, the $119 million project would be the largest single destination resort to be built in Idaho since Sun Valley in 1936.
Master planning cannot begin until the Bureau of Reclamation gives preliminary approval as well. Bureau officials are expected to rule on their portion of the project in 30 days.
The Boise forest issued an environmental impact statement Thursday in granting the special-use permit. The final environmental statement is the culmination of more than two years of public meetings, public comments and extensive studies.
The document, prepared by the Sears-Brown Group in Park City, Utah, is available to the public. Residents have until Feb. 13 to appeal the Boise forest's decision.
Gov. Cecil Andrus said Thursday the state will be an active participant in the planning phase, particularly on transportation and environmental issues.
"We're not blindly opposed to it (Valbois), but we're not going to let anyone destroy our precious natural resources," Andrus said.
"They're going to have to prove to us that they'll protect the water quality of Cascade Reservoir, if not enhance it, and they've got to prove to us that they're in it for the long haul financially."
Boise forest officials received more than 550 comments on the project, which has split the people of Valley County. Critics forced forest officials to write a supplemental draft impact statement after pinpointing a number of flaws in the first version.
The project is proposed by Taggart, Pierre Schnebelen, president of PSI Resorts based in Paris and a veteran resort developer; and French bank executive Malik Bencheghib.