Douglas Counthy adds TRPA member to speed things up |

Douglas Counthy adds TRPA member to speed things up

A Douglas County planner will soon be housed in the offices of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to help streamline the planning process for that part of the basin, county commissioners decided last week.

“It was an affirmative vote to try it for six months and just see how it goes. It’s going to start fairly soon,” Jacques Etchegoyhen, chair of the board, said Friday. “We’ll re-evaluate it after six months. If it’s not going well then, we’ll just get rid of it.”

The action came one week after four of the commissioners split their vote on a similar proposal. Commissioner Steve Weissinger broke the tie Thursday.

“If it’s not a success, it won’t have my vote again,” Weissinger said at the meeting.

Some commissioners didn’t even want to give it that chance.

“It’s unclear that it will be beneficial to Douglas County at the lake,” Commissioner Bernie Curtis said Friday.

Douglas County is planning to provide the planner while TRPA provides the facilities in which he or she can work. Supporters of the project believe the planner will lessen the burdens on other jurisdictions, expediting more projects throughout the basin. If the pilot program is successful, supporters say other basin government agencies could follow Douglas County’s example.

The issue had been somewhat controversial earlier when Douglas County was pursuing the option of having South Shore businesses pay for part of the planner’s salary. The possibility of that creating a conflict of interest was raised. The argument, however, became moot Thursday when commissioners agreed to have the county pay for all of its share.

Weissinger, Etchegoyhen and Stateline resident Don Miner voted for the proposal. Commissioners Curtis and Kelly Kite – both frequent critics of TRPA – voted against the proposal.

“Essentially my objective is I don’t think it’s the duty of the tax payers of Douglas County to support an additional planner for the TRPA when no other government agency at the lake is doing it,” Curtis said Friday. “It’s essentially a problem in placing a fairly competent planner from Douglas County into an outfit that has demonstrated (itself) as fairly dysfunctional and loses its planners on a regular basis. I don’t think it’s up to Douglas County to support that kind of activity, and I voted as such.”

Etchegoyhen Friday said he hoped this action would be the beginning of an era of better communication between the two organizations, as well as help build a more efficient TRPA.

“We had some reservations about this because of past experiences with TRPA,” Etchegoyhen said. “But there’s been a glimmer of hope recently. Hopefully, this will help continue the slow evolution of TRPA.”

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