Dyer Mountain land due to be sold in tax auction

Published: Thursday, Jul. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 25, 2013 - 6:23 am

The slopes of Dyer Mountain, where developers have proposed a controversial four-season resort, are scheduled to be sold at auction on the steps of the Lassen County Courthouse.

Dyer Management, the current owner, owes the rural county nearly $3.3 million in back taxes and interest, said Richard Egan, Lassen County treasurer and tax collector.

When the Delaware-based corporation missed a June 30 deadline to set up a tax payment plan, Egan launched the process of selling the nearly 7,000 acres to recover the taxes.

He is preparing a document that will give the county the power to sell the property. Instead of going to the Lassen County Board of Supervisors for authorization, Egan plans to accelerate the process that normally takes as long as a year. The Dyer development land could be offered for sale to the highest bidder as early as this winter, he said.

Meanwhile, the owners could sell the land. A new owner would have to assume responsibility for the back taxes as well as whatever sale price it negotiates with the current owners, Egan said.

Finding a buyer for the entire Dyer development property is "a reasonable possibility," Egan said. But unless an official sale is recorded, Egan plans to proceed with the steps required for the county to sell the property.

The sale to recover unpaid taxes is complicated because the property consists of as many as 30 legal parcels. Egan must decide whether to sell them separately or in combinations that allow access to each parcel.

The timberlands, meadows and seasonal streams were planned for development as a destination resort with ski facilities, golf courses, 600,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 4,000 residential units. The project has been mired in bankruptcy, foreclosure and debt since voters countywide overwhelmingly approved a 2000 ballot initiative authorizing zoning designed to allow building on the timbered slopes of Dyer Mountain near Westwood.

Ownership has changed hands at least three times and the proposal has been subject to at least five lawsuits and several court orders.

Opponents of the project lost a legal bid in 2011 seeking to force Lassen County to redo an environmental review of the development. The plaintiffs, three environmental groups, appealed the ruling by Lassen County Judge F. Donald Sokol in an action that is still pending.

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