Harveys digs itself $45,000 hole | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Harveys digs itself $45,000 hole

Gregory Crofton

Tree and asphalt removal and digging without a permit prompted the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to fine Harveys Lake Tahoe and the South Tahoe Public Utility District a combined $55,000.

Harveys Lake Tahoe has agreed to pay $45,000 in fines because of un-permitted work in October that involved an old maintenance parking area behind the hotel and casino. The casino had 42,000 square feet of pavement removed, moved 4,000 cubic yards of soil and cut down nine trees.

“Harveys was actually proactive in reporting the situation,” said Julie Regan, communications director at the TRPA. “They were very forthright and cooperative and that makes a big difference.”

As part of an agreement to resolve the violation, Harveys has agreed to plant trees and deliver a restoration plan for the site by August. The agreement requires that $10,000 of the fine fund BlueGo, South Shore’s public transit system, and that $10,000 go to the TRPA environmental education fund.

“In our zeal to do the right thing, to remove this old asphalt, landscape it and restore it to its natural state, some people missed a few things along the way and didn’t get the proper permits,” said John Packer, spokesman for Harveys. “We understand TRPA action in this matter is correct and we intend to comply.”

The agreement will go up for approval before the TRPA Governing Board when it meets Wednesday at Stateline.

Across town, a digging violation at South Tahoe Public Utility District led to a $10,000 fine against the agency. The district moved more than 200 cubic yards of dirt, more than allowed before the start of the excavation season, which typically begins May 1.

The violation occurred April 8 and was part of demolition project to make way for a new STPUD office building slated to be completed by 2006.

“We have ordinances too and expect people to abide by them,” said Dennis Cocking, district information officer. But, he said, there was no threat to the environment because the district plant is set up so it does not drain to the lake.

Harveys’ $45,000 fine is not the largest fine ever issued by the TRPA. Fines issued in the past against homeowners have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

By law, the TRPA can fine someone $5,000 a day for as many days as the violation goes without being addressed.

The TRPA issued a $75,000 fine against a Glenbrook homeowner in October 2002 for removing willows from a stream area. Homeowner and casino lobbyist Harvey Whittemore also agreed to restore the affected land by planting native vegetation.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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