Judge approves ruling against Lake Tahoe pier approval
CARSON CITY (AP) — A federal judge has blocked casino lobbyist Harvey Whittemore, liquor merchant Larry Ruvo and Edward Fein from building a pier in front of their lakefront properties on Tahoe’s upscale Glenbrook Bay.
U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt upheld federal Magistrate Robert McQuaid’s report that the California-Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency conditioned its earlier approval of the pier on a court finding that Fein lacks legal access to Glenbrook’s existing community pier.
McQuaid said the claim by the pier proponents that Fein lacked a reserved right to the community pier “is completely at odds” with language in a deed that assures that right.
To accept the pier advocates’ interpretation “would indeed be rewriting the unambiguous terms of the agreement and would be at odds with the intent of the parties,” McQuaid added. “This, the court will not do.”
Hunt, based in Las Vegas, said in a brief order filed Friday that he reviewed the case and found McQuaid’s recommendations are “not clearly erroneous or contrary to law, are supported by law and fact, and should be affirmed and adopted.”
“We’re extraordinarily pleased with Judge Hunt’s ruling,” Doug Jones, head of the Glenbrook Homeowners Association which opposed the pier project, said Monday. “It’s sad that a pier application that the TRPA should have never processed had to be resolved in federal court at considerable time and expense of the taxpayers’ money.”
“We’re particularly pleased that the integrity of Glenbrook Bay will be maintained,” Jones added, noting the only structure that now crosses one of Tahoe’s most pristine beaches is the community pier.
Leif Reid, attorney for Whittemore, Ruvo and Fein, said the order will be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and “we’re confident that we will prevail on appeal and that the pier ultimately will be built.”
“This was a Pyrrhic victory for the homeowners,” Reid said, describing the ruling as one which “drastically limits their easement rights and which will have long-lasting negative impacts for them.”
Claims rejected by Hunt included one by the homeowners association that the TRPA broke the law in approving an abruptly revised pier application. Also, the Glenbrook Preservation Association challenged the legality and constitutionality of the TRPA’s actions and said the panel gives preferential treatment to “powerful and influential applicants.”
Jerry Wells, acting executive director of the TRPA, issued a statement saying the agency was pleased that Hunt adopted McQuaid’s affirmation of its permit process.
“After painstakingly reviewing the conditional pier permit issued to Edward Fein, Magistrate McQuaid determined the TRPA had complied with the compact and all other legal requirements,” Wells stated.