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February 18, 2013
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TRPA disputes Sierra Club statement about lawsuit negotiations

LAKE TAHOE - Tahoe Regional Planning Agency representatives disputed a Thursday statement by the Sierra Club contending the planning agency refused to negotiate with the environmental group ahead of potential litigation over its Regional Plan Update.

The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore filed a lawsuit challenging the TRPA's RPU in federal court last Monday. The updated plan regulating development in the Lake Tahoe Basin has been in development for the better part of a decade.

Last Thursday, in an article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton said the environmental group made a "good faith effort" to get the TRPA to extend the deadline to sue to allow for further negotiations surrounding the RPU. Hamilton said the group was hopeful further negotiations could prevent the matter from ending up in court, but the TRPA refused.

TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowen said in a Friday email that the agency tried to work with the Sierra Club ahead of the legal deadline.

"We were notified of the desire to open new negotiations late day Feb. 7, less than 24 hours before what they believed was the filing deadline," Cowen said. "We clarified the deadline was Monday, Feb. 11 and made an offer to work with the Sierra Club through the weekend. They rejected our proposals as 'insignificant.' It's inaccurate to simply say 'TRPA refused.' In addition, delay would have been disrespectful to the thousands of people who invested their time and gave input in a public process over several years. We were shocked at the suggestion that TRPA should discuss changing the plan without other stakeholders at the table."

The first hearing date in the lawsuit challenging the RPU has not been set.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 18, 2013 12:12PM Published Feb 18, 2013 12:11PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.