Leery commissioners put metro planning on hold | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Leery commissioners put metro planning on hold

by Michael Schneider

Citing concern that approval would mean required funding by the county, the Douglas Commissioners delayed a decision regarding support of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s bid to be the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“I’ve never seen any free money,” Commissioner Kelly Kite said. “Are there strings attached?”

Richard Wiggins, TRPA senior planner, told the commission that the requested motion would only allow for increased federal funding as the basin would be allowed to count tourists as residents.

This would allow the basin’s population to grow to 50,000 which would qualify Tahoe as an Urbanized Area and make urban funding grants available.

Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who also sits on the Tahoe Transportation District, said the TTD approved a similar item at its last meeting.

“The overall goal is to get our hands on more money,” Weissinger said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Citing past problems with the TRPA, commissioners told Wiggins they didn’t trust him when he said they could approve or deny the projects the MPO designation would bring on an individual basis.

“I’d be a lot more comfortable if I knew for sure the MPO had no regulatory powers,” Kite said.

When the county’s district attorney was unable to say for certain that a separate mandate couldn’t require matching funds from the county, Commission Vice Chair Don Miner withdrew his motion for approval.

“We’d be happy to come back in a month with more information,” Bob Nunes, community development director, said. Nunes had introduced the item and spoke in support of it.

The commission decided to hold off on a decision until after the DA and TRPA could decide exactly what a “yes” vote would mean for the county.

“We just need to be romanced a little bit,” Miner said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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