Deadline nears on regional plan challenge |

Deadline nears on regional plan challenge

Adam Jensen

LAKE TAHOE – Opponents of a plan designed to guide development at Lake Tahoe for the next two decades have until early this week to file a legal challenge.

Most of the elements of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan Update take effect Monday, agency spokesman Jeff Cowen said. Opponents have until midnight Tuesday to file a legal challenge.

Proponents of the Regional Plan Update, including many from the business community, have lauded the plan as a way to bring needed investment to the Lake Tahoe Basin while still protecting its environment.

The most vocal opponents of the plan, have been environmental groups that contend the plan will lead to detrimental increases in the height and density of development, as well as choke area roads with additional traffic.

Tahoe Area Sierra Club representative Laurel Ames could not be reached Friday afternoon. Representatives of Earthjustice, an environmental law firm that has challenged TRPA decisions in the past, did not return requests for comment about the possibility of a legal challenge Friday.

Changes regarding land coverage rules in the Regional Plan Update, such as exemptions for decks and bike paths, still require approvals from state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cowen said. The EPA’s approval of the changes will be considered in March and, barring complications, would be in place in time for this summer’s building season, Cowen said.

The agency’s Governing Board approved the controversial Regional Plan Update Dec. 12. The plan was originally slated for completion in 2007.

Passage of an updated regional plan was one of the major concerns for Nevada legislators during the passage of Senate Bill 271, which threatens to pull the state out of the agency if certain benchmarks are not met.

The TRPA’s existing regional plan was fought over in court for three years following the filing of a pair of lawsuits in 1984. A judge effectively ordered a moratorium on new construction at Tahoe until the suits were resolved in 1987.

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