Vegetation removal costs offender $75,000
A Glenbrook resident has agreed to pay $75,000 to make amends for removing willows and other vegetation near a creek.
The resident, attorney Harvey Whittemore, told the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency he didn’t think removal of 5,00 square feet of vegetation required a permit. A landscape company removed the vegetation to make way for a picnic area, where pines and aspens would be planted.
Whittemore could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
The affected land, about 50 feet south of Glenbrook Creek, had been cut to ground level. The area is classified as a stream environment zone and is protected by TRPA.
An agreement that would settle the violation will be voted on by the TRPA Governing Board when it meets Wednesday. If approved, it would require a $50,000 fine, with another $25,000 to be provided by the Whittemore Family Foundation to fund an environmental restoration project at Glenbrook, a private community on the East Shore of Lake Tahoe.
The settlement also specifies a $20,000 deposit each year for three years to ensure the affected land is restored. Restoration will include planting willow stakes, installing erosion controls and erecting protective fencing around the site.
A TRPA staff member discovered the illegal landscaping on Sept. 25 while inspecting property owned by Larry Ruvo, who lives near Whittemore.
“We were out on the property of Larry Ruvo, who wants to tear down two houses and build one house,” said John Marshall, lead attorney at the agency, “(and we) noticed a large volume of downed materials on the side of the road.”
JB Landscaping of Glenbrook was hired to do the work. The TRPA has not pursued action against the landscaping company because Whittemore, as an attorney, advised them the work did not require a permit from the agency.
A separate issue that involves Ruvo and Whittemore, both lakefront property owners at Glenbrook, is making its way through the federal court system in Las Vegas.
Since 1999, Ruvo and Whittemore have wanted to install a floating pier in front of their homes. The Glenbrook Preservation Association and the Glenbrook Homeowners Association filed lawsuits to stop the project. They argue that the homeowners should use a community pier that already exists.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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