LAKEPORT, Calif. -- The plans for a proposed Northshore health resort
took another step forward this week. Following a public hearing Tuesday
morning, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 -- with Supervisor Denise Rushing
absent -- to approve a rezone, mitigated negative declaration and general
plan of development for Dr. Robert Gardner’s proposed Utopia Health Resort.
Gardner is proposing to build the health and hospitality resort in phases.
At buildout it is expected to have a guest lodge, 24 villas, 25 cabins,
100 suites and medical-, health- and spa-related amenities on numerous
parcels on the hillside overlooking Clear Lake between Nice and Lucerne.
The Lake County Planning Commission voted unanimously Dec. 8 to move
the project forward to the board, as Lake County News has reported.
Community Development Director Rick Coel and Senior Planner Kevin Ingram
presented the project to the board. Ingram told the board that its
approvals wouldn’t allow building to start, as there were still many
steps and a lot of review in the process ahead. Gardner showed the
board pictures of how he’s improved the property, including tearing down
old buildings and cleaning up illegal dumping. A number of groups
and individuals expressed support for the proposed resort. Victoria
Brandon of the Sierra Club Lake Group commended Gardner for his approach
to the project, noting that he went to the group years ago to ask for input.
He subsequently addressed their concerns as the project evolved.
Brandon said she thinks the resort will be “a tremendous benefit for
the community.” The last remaining concern involves Gardner’s
proposal to build a seaplane dock on the lake. While transportation is
an issue for the county, “We’ve lost too much lakeside vegetation already,”
Attorney Andre Ross, representing the Lake County Chamber of Commerce
Legislative Committee, said the group believes Gardner’s project is a
good one, and that it will be economically beneficial. Carol Cole-Lewis
of Thrive Lake County and Gary Lewis of the North Shore Business Association
also expressed support.