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CLE ELUM, WA-Redmond-based developer Trendwest Resorts Inc. received preliminary approval last week from Kittitas County Commissioners to move forward on the development of its 6,225-acre MountainStar resort near Cle Elum, Wash.

If all goes as planned, company officials hope to start work on the resort sometime next year and have cabins ready to occupy in 2002. But company officials, who have spent the past four years battling to get approval for the resort, expect legal challenges from opponents concerned about MountainStar’s impact on the environment and its effect on rural lifestyles.

When completed, the MountainStar resort–currently the largest project of its kind in the state–is expected to feature 4,100 residential units, two golf courses, a 500-room hotel, an equestrian center and 100,000 sf of retail space. The fully completed project, which would take approximately 30 years to construct, is expected to cost Trendwest Resorts in the neighborhood of $250 million.

In an effort to appease opponents, Trendwest has agreed to reserve 4,800 acres of the resort for open space, including 1,500 acres along the Cle Elum River that would be set aside as a conservation trust. Before any development can take place, however, Trendwest still has to secure approval from the state Department of Ecology to transfer water rights it has bought from irrigators in the Yakima River drainage to use at MountainStar.

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