Proposed Three Rivers hotel sizes up the issues


Following more public discussion at the Three Rivers Town Hall held Monday, Jan. 9, and receiving further direction from county planners, the developer of the proposed 100-plus-unit riverfront hotel has been informed via a letter about key issues identified during the initial scoping.
County staff has presented the applicant with a preliminary list of items to be considered for study in an environmental impact report critical to the success of the project.
Cost, water, traffic:
“The next step is sitting down with the applicant, and their consultants from 4Creeks, to ensure that we all understand what the requirements will be,” said Michael Washam, Tulare County RMA’s director of economic development and planning. “There are three critical areas in any project: certainty of approval, time it will take, and what it will cost.”
Washam said there were no surprises among the issues that were raised during the scoping process. At the top of the list is water, and that starts with the proximity to the Kaweah River. There are concerns with flooding, providing drinking water for the development, and how to deal with wastewater.  
Another area of concern is traffic, and that is the jurisdiction of Caltrans. Washam said he’s not sure what Caltrans will require but there is an opportunity to make improvements.
As required by state law, county staff has contacted a tribal representative. The native peoples know the importance of the river and that Three Rivers was inhabited by a large native population, Washam said.  
CSD field trip:
According to a source close to the project, in order to mitigate wastewater concerns, there is a proposal to construct a wastewater recycling plant on site. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Three Rivers Community Services District board members visited a wastewater recycling facility near Panoche on Interstate 5. This facility was built by Biofiltro, a Chilean company that has developed the system. According to a company brochure, the system can be scaled to any size and would not be cost prohibitive for the Three Rivers hotel project.
Cindy Howell, general manager of the Three Rivers CSD, said she was uncertain if the developer would employ the Biofiltro system but that CSD board members who attended the tour were impressed by the recycling plant.
“If it isn’t employed in the hotel project, it’s important that we learn about what’s out there for future projects,” Howell said.
Alternative plan proposed by local architect:
At the January 9 town meeting, Gary Cort, a Three Rivers architect, presented a brief history of several projects that have been proposed for the intended hotel property. Cort also developed an alternative plan for the hotel and said the response to his plan has been favorable.
“After considering all the potential uses, it’s my feeling that that the site with river frontage would be best suited for an open space park,” Cort said.
Cort has previously drawn plans for the site that, in addition to a park and hotel, also include a commercial development and a beer bar in a country club setting.      
“I’d like to see the property designated for river access,” Cort said.
Let your voice be heard:
The next town meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 6.  

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