Harveys sues TRPA over right to build | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Harveys sues TRPA over right to build

Harveys Tahoe Management Company has filed a lawsuit against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that states it is wrongfully being denied the right to develop land it owns behind the Lakeside Inn & Casino.

The suit contests a decision made by the TRPA Governing Board to deny development rights on land behind Lakeside on Laura Drive because of a 1980 violation admitted to by Harveys.

Harvey’s Inn (now Lakeside) requested a permit in 1976 to expand its parking lot, which already covered more land than allowed by the planning agency.

Despite the parking lot already deemed by agency staff to be too large, the TRPA Governing Board deadlocked when it met to vote on the issue. Douglas County, however, approved the parking lot expansion.

The gaming company interpreted the Governing Board indecision as a “deemed approval,” according to TRPA documents, and went ahead with expansion. The agency pursued the act as a violation and crafted a settlement agreement that involved Harveys handing over four vacant lots it owned to Douglas County with the requirement that the land be used for “permanent open space as a neighborhood park.”

Douglas County never used the land to build a park, and in 1990, the county deeded the land back to Harveys. In 2001, Harveys sought TRPA approval to develop the land. The TRPA Governing Board denied the request in April 2002 and denied an appeal in October 2002.

“It was a unanimous decision by the Governing Board,” said Jordan Kahn, assistant counsel at the TRPA. “The Governing Board agreed with the staff that those four lots cannot be developed today unless or until an appropriate package is reviewed and approved by the TRPA that addresses the 1980 violation — the over coverage.”

Michael K. Johnson, an attorney based at Stateline, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Reno on Dec. 23. By law the suit must be served within 120 days of its filing. Johnson declined to comment on the suit, or to say if it would be served on the TRPA.

But the lawsuit makes clear that Harveys believes it has made good on its 1980 settlement agreement and is entitled to develop the land.

One section of the document states: “TRPA’s actions have damaged Harveys’ property interests. Furthermore, there is no public use being served by such conduct. Therefore, TRPA’s actions constitute an unlawful taking of Harveys’ property.”

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

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