League files lawsuit against TRPA | TahoeDailyTribune.com

League files lawsuit against TRPA

Hema Easley

The League to Save Lake Tahoe has filed a lawsuit challenging the expansion of the Tahoe Keys Marina, a League attorney said Tuesday.

The lawsuit against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was filed Aug. 27 in a federal court. The TRPA Governing Board approved the marina’s master plan in June.

“We view the approval as invalid because it didn’t take into account the water quality and traffic” that would result from the expansion plan, said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the nonprofit group.

“It’s a precedent-setting case. We want to see it done right,” Nason said.

The League threatened a lawsuit two months ago when TRPA gave the Tahoe Keys Marina permission to add slips for up to 150 new boats, 120 more parking spaces and nearly 6,000 feet of additional floor space.

The League’s attorney, Stephan Volker, had said the board was acting against state and federal laws that require a baseline study of the environmental conditions at the marina. The lawsuit asks the federal court to set aside TRPA’s action on grounds that the marina’s environmental impact statement was inadequate.

“We expect the court to set aside its existing approval and reconsider its decision,” said Volker.

However, the TRPA has maintained that its governing board and staff acted in accordance with the law.

“It’s unfortunate that they have had to resort to litigation. We are going to defend the board’s decision,” said John Marshal, attorney for the TRPA.

League officials have argued for the last year that a baseline level of the toxin PAH has to be established before the approval of the master plan.

Not much is known about PAH, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a byproduct of boat fuel combustion. Preliminary studies show the byproduct can be toxic and possibly lethal to fish larvae and zooplankton at the base of Tahoe’s aquatic food chain. However, its toxicity hasn’t been established.

Marina co-owner Richard Horton said the lawsuit was likely to put the expansion plan on hold.

“We have to keep in mind that at some point some court may ask us to undo it,” Horton said of the expansion plans, adding he was “very disappointed” by the League’s decision to go to court.

“The League to Save Lake Tahoe wants its views to govern the lake and not the views of the governing bodies elected by the voters,” Horton said.

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