Pier plan moving forward
September 30, 2005
Lawyers for Larry Ruvo, Harvey Whittemore and Ed Fein say they will meet with Tahoe’s planning agency later this week to settle the remaining conditions of a permit for a private pier in Glenbrook Bay, while opponents said they’d continue battling the project.
A court decision last month cleared the way for the three lakefront property owners to build a pier, after a four-year legal battle.
“We intend to move forward with the project as expeditiously as we can,” said Leif Reid, Ruvo’s lawyer.
A representative of the Glenbrook Preservation Association said it will continue to fight against the pier, although it presently does not plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There will continue to be court battles and regulatory battles,” said GPA attorney Ron Zumbrun.
If an appeal is filed, it would not automatically invalidate the permit, said Jordan Kahn, assistant legal counsel to TRPA. The agency approved the pier in 2001.
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An additional 15 conditions remain on the permit, but most are of an administrative nature, Kahn said. If those conditions are met, construction must be completed within three years, according to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency regulations.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month Fein did not have a legal right to use the Glenbrook community pier, clearing the last major hurdle for Ruvo to build the pier in front of Fein’s home.
The TRPA issued the permit in 2001 on two main conditions: that a judge rule Ruvo’s party did not have a legal right to use the existing Glenbrook pier and that a judge rule the pier would not interfere with a recreational easement.
The GPA and Glenbrook Homeowners Association sued TRPA, saying their environmental review was inadequate in issuing the permit. Both courts which heard the case disagreed.
“The TRPA permitting process was affirmed both by the district court and now by the Ninth Circuit,” said Kahn.
Attorneys for GPA asserted Ruvo’s pier is meant to house a floating casino or recreation building and needed extra review.
“That is silly,” said Reid, “absolute silliness.” His clients want a pier for their personal enjoyment, he said.
And TRPA said this was never proposed, so no environmental review is needed.
“We didn’t have any plans in front of us other than a 300-foot by 10-foot pier,” Kahn said. “The entertainment complex of the type alleged by the GPA is prohibited under TRPA’s current zoning.”
Some have wondered why, in the midst of a debate on how many, if any, piers TRPA will permit over the next 20 years, Ruvo and his party are able to acquire a pier permit.
“Ruvo has the ability to get permits when he seeks them,” Zumbrun said. GPA is concerned, he said, “when a regulator gives preferential treatment and puts them to first in line when they are last in line.”
TRPA had been approving piers under existing regulations, said Kahn.
The private pier permit was issued in 2001, before a May 2004 TRPA Governing Board resolution temporarily deferring processing and acceptance of certain shorezone development applications, Kahn said.