Delay in Incline Village group’s challenge to scenic threshold
May 22, 2003
A legal motion that could halt building at Lake Tahoe Basin is on hold pending results of a hearing.
The motion stems from a lawsuit filed by a group based at Incline Village that opposes scenic ordinances adopted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The scenic ordinances adopted in December are designed to limit the visual impact of homes on Lake Tahoe’s natural landscape and along roadways classified as scenic corridors. The rules took effect in late January.
The motion would request a preliminary injunction to stop use of the scenic ordinances. If an injunction is approved, the TRPA says it would be forced to halt the review of projects that the scenic ordinances affect.
The ban on building in areas classified by the TRPA as scenic would be necessary until a substitute for the scenic ordinances is approved, according to John Marshall, lead attorney at the TRPA.
“I don’t know why they didn’t file the motion,” Marshall said. “Personally, I think they thought it would backfire.”
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The motion may still be filed after a hearing regarding dismissal of the case has occurred, said Ronald Zumbrun, an attorney representing the Incline Village-based Committee for the Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe.
“It’s easier to deal with the motion to dismiss first,” Zumbrun said. “At this stage, it’s a better opportunity to argue the points that are in our complaint.”
The committee’s lawsuit challenges the validity of TRPA’s scenic threshold. It was adopted in 1982 along with eight other thresholds designed to protect the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin. In recent years, scenic quality at the basin, particularly within 300 feet of the shore of the lake, has become tilted in favor of homes, according to the TRPA.
Zumbrun was required to file a brief in response to the motion to dismiss by the middle of this month, but Marshall said Zumbrun was granted an extension.
A hearing will be set in federal court in Reno after Zumbrun’s brief is filed by June 5, Marshall said.
“It will be the first major encounter in court in this case,” Zumbrun said. “The court’s ruling will have a major effect on the future progress of the case.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com