Douglas County first to pass Area Plan |

Douglas County first to pass Area Plan

Adam Jensen

An effort by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to give greater control of planning matters to local jurisdictions took a step forward last Thursday with Douglas County’s passage of the South Shore Area Plan.

Amid concerns from environmental groups, Douglas County Commissioners passed the plan by a 4-0 vote Thursday afternoon. Commissioner Lee Bonner did not attend the meeting.

Douglas County is the first local jurisdiction in the Lake Tahoe Basin to pass an Area Plan, which were created as a concept by the TRPA’s Regional Plan Update. The agency’s Governing Board approved the RPU in December. Area Plans are expected to replace existing community plans under the updated planning policies.

The South Shore Area Plan grew out of the South Shore Vision Plan, which was developed more than 18 months ago in conjunction with about 40 stakeholders, including the South Tahoe Alliance of Resorts. The plan envisions numerous changes that proponents contend will allow for the creation of a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly state line area.

The Tahoe Area Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore, which are challenging approval of the RPU in court, have criticized the South Shore Area Plan. The groups contend TRPA’s agreements with local jurisdictions under Area Plans will increase the extent and type of projects that can be performed without environmental review.

“The environmental impacts of a lot of these changes have not been analyzed,” Jennifer Quashnick, a representative of the environmental groups, told commissioners Thursday.

Proponents of the plan contend it will pave the way for necessary improvements at the lake, both economic and environmental.

Commission Chair Greg Lynn disagreed with Quashnick regarding the level of analysis, saying the operative word for creation of the plan was “exhaustive.”

“If it has not been an exhaustive process, nothing has,” Lynn said.

The plan does not include the approval of specific projects, which will require additional review before moving forward. The South Shore Area Plan is expected to be in front of the TRPA’s Governing Board July 24.

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