Bigger boat slips agreed upon at Tahoe Keys Marina
An owner of the Tahoe Keys Marina said he agreed to settle a lawsuit preventing more boat slips at his marina because $500,000 and six years are all he wants to spend to fight for the expansion.
“We don’t want to be involved in a lengthy and costly litigation,” said Richard Horton, co-owner of the marina and a lawyer who works out of Reno. “There’s no telling how many years would be taken up by litigation of this kind.”
In June, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board approved a Tahoe Keys Marina Master Plan, which according to Horton was expensive and time consuming to put together. It permitted 150 new boat slips, 120 new parking spaces and 6,000 square feet of floor space.
But the League to Save Lake Tahoe, an environmental advocate at South Lake Tahoe, sued the TRPA a month later, putting a halt to the expansion. The lawsuit argued that a baseline had not been set for the level of PAH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, in the lake. PAH is a byproduct of boat fuel that may be lethal to fish larvae and zooplankton.
Lahontan Water Quality Control Board and the marina both have experts studying what effect PAH has on the lake.
After months of negotiation, the League hammered out a tentative settlement with the TRPA, the marina and the city, which also had permitted the additional boat slips. It allows the new parking, the floor space and enlargement of 44 of the 236 slips at the marina.
Larger slips will be added this summer, said Lewis Feldman, an attorney representing the marina, but the parking and floor space are on hold until more information is available on PAH.
“We very pleased because there will not be additional slips — that was our main goal,” said Rochelle Nason, executive director at the League. “We felt that water quality and traffic concerns had not been addressed by anyone. We think this outcome is a good one for Lake Tahoe.”
Because the settlement will allow larger slips, marina owners will fund a study of how large boats affect the lake. It will be included in a Shorezone Environmental Impact Statement due in January 2003.
“Boats of 40 or 50 feet in length are no longer unusual,” Horton said. “We can best serve our customers by getting larger slips.”
The TRPA Advisory Planning Commission approved the tentative settlement with one dissent when it met Wednesday. Kevin Cole, a South Lake Tahoe man appointed to the commission to represent California, voted against the planned settlement.
“Obviously this is a significant concession on the part of the marina,” he said. “I don’t know where the boats are going to go but they are going to pop up somewhere. I feel the marina has been singled out.”
Cole said 30 slips were added to the Beach and Habor Club, a marina in the same lagoon complex as the Tahoe Keys Marina, two years ago. The League did not take issue with the expansion. As a result, no environmental document or master plan was required, said Jill Keller, TRPA spokeswoman.
Only one resident spoke at a public hearing during the APC meeting. Michael Adamson, a Tahoe Keys homeowner, said he is concerned a lack of slips at the marina, coupled with the TRPA’s recent crack down on illegal mooring buoys, will put more boats at private docks.
“I don’t want to support expansion of the marina, but I’d rather have slips in the marina where it is controllable,” he said. “It’s just moving the problem from one place and putting it somewhere else.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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