Home-builders get huge fine from TRPA | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Home-builders get huge fine from TRPA

A North Shore couple has to pay a hefty amount of money to Lake Tahoe’s bistate regulatory board for violations made when building a home, the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency decided Wednesday.

But that’s not all.

In addition to $400,000 Al and Jane Duffield have to pay TRPA, they also have to spend more than $200,000 to fix many of the problems on the property, pay another $40,000 for restoration of a nearby stream zone and post a $100,000 performance bond, which the agency could tap into if the Duffields don’t complete the work.

“TRPA’s commitment to enforcing its code of ordinances is unwavering,” said Jim Baetge, executive director of TRPA. “The cost, delay and corrective actions that were imposed here should make everyone think twice about departing from TRPA-approved plans.”

Said Al Duffield: “This whole process has been a nightmare I would not wish on anyone.”

In building an Incline Village home, the Duffields allegedly created more than 3,000 square feet of unapproved coverage, built too close to a stream zone, made the building too tall, removed trees without permission, damaged nearby vegetation and more. The allegations violated 54 sections of the TRPA code of ordinances.

TRPA and the Duffields have been in disagreement about the matter since February, and they were able to reach agreement only with the help of a professional mediator. TRPA likely would have filed a lawsuit if there had been no resolution.

The Duffields still contest some of the violations but have agreed with the settlement.

Many of the problems with the residence happened because the house was designed to maximize allowable limits, according to TRPA. That restricted flexibility when construction started and changes were needed.

“If I could start this project from Day 1, I would have instructed my consultants and contractors to design well within allowable limits to leave room for field adjustments and error,” Duffield said.

He also said he wishes his workers had notified TRPA when changes had been needed, rather than moving forward with the project.

“It is very frustrating to think that it might well have been avoided if someone had just made a call to TRPA to ask if we could do this or do that,” Duffield said.

As a result of the matter, TRPA plans to host an educational workshop for area contractors and consultants next month. As a result of the agreement, the Duffields will pay for the workshop.

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