Complaint filed vs. KGID |

Complaint filed vs. KGID

A former Terrace View Drive resident filed a citizen complaint Wednesday with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency against the Kingsbury General Improvement District for alleged violations at its water-tank site across the street from the house where he once lived.

John Eckland, who now lives in Genoa, accuses his former neighbor of illegally cutting down mature, healthy trees and extending its water-tank foundation beyond the coverage allowable by TRPA guidelines and using a procedure that specifically circumvents an inspection.

As for the latter, TRPA issues about 250 “qualified exempt declarations” a year and audits about 5 percent of them, the agency reported.

And that’s precisely what KGID was banking on, Eckland contends.

KGID received original permission from TRPA in 1996 to bring in a second water tank because the original tank needed to go off-line for repairs.

Its QED filed in 1998 called for replacing a 400,000-gallon tank with the “same footprint.”

Development of the tank project has consumed 14,193 square feet, with 8,519 feet allowable on the 51,712-square-foot parcel, the complaint reads.

“KGID, however, appears to think itself above the rules; assuming, perhaps, that its governmental status may help protect it from the TRPA penalties that other citizens suffer for disobeying those same rules,” it adds.

Eckland adds that KGID also illegally cut down a small grove of unmarked aspen and pine trees, contending the trees served as a barrier between nearby homes.

Some trees were replanted at the site – 169 Terrace View Drive – on the other side of the tanks from Eckland’s former residence, which sold two years ago.

This is the point of contention for Eckland, who also intends to file a civil suit in Douglas County Superior Court within the month.

In 1998, his home built by his father 22 years ago at 168 Terrace View Drive sold for $757,000, after six months of being on the market.

But it was later valued at an amount between $950,000 to $1 million, according to Reno appraiser Anthony Wren, who was brought in to assist in litigation.

Eckland found that the water tanks served as an eyesore to many prospective buyers.

“Fifteen people came by and said, ‘we like it, but we can’t stand that tank across the street,’ ” Eckland said. “It has a view to kill for, but that’s if you’re looking at the lake.”

He underwent a series of verbal and written complaints with TRPA, KGID and Douglas County.

The latter forced KGID to put a new fence up when the original one was removed. Eckland lived at the residence for a year without a fence cordoning off the water tanks.

KGID essentially ignored his complaints at three public board meetings, he insisted.

“I tried to negotiate with them, but they basically told me to get on my horse and get out of town,” he said.

McCall Real Estate Agent Craig Zager, who has represented both the seller and buyer, agreed.

“There was no doubt it was a major burden (in the sale),” Zager said. “(KGID) never kept the site cleaned up. Cars going in and out lined the street,” he added, describing an industrial zone in a residential neighborhood.

Zager also took issue with KGID’s response or lack thereof.

“They never responded in a timely matter to any complaints,” he said, adding the new buyer, Will Washburn, is unhappy and suggesting a civil suit himself.

Phone calls to Washburn’s San Diego office were unreturned Thursday.

Down the street at 163 Terrace View Drive, Freddie Laurian said the water tank site hasn’t turned for the worse.

“KGID has been a very good neighbor,” she said.

KGID General Manager Candy Rohr denied all allegations Thursday, but she reserved her comments until the organization and its attorney have had enough time to evaluate the complaint.

“We believe we were fully compliant in terms of TRPA’s conditions and regulations,” Rohr said.

KGID’s attorney didn’t return phone calls by Thursday.

Marshall said TRPA will investigate the matter, addressing the complaint in general terms.

If violations are found, TRPA will issue correction notices.

But more often than not, if the changes are permanent in nature, it’s not worth rectifying. In that case, fines may be imposed.

The penalty is contingent on the violation.

“It depends on the nature of the violation, assuming there are violations,” Marshall said.

He was steadfast at denying that public agencies are given any preferential treatment from TRPA, as the complaint implies.

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