Victory scored for would-be pier builders
KINGS BEACH – A pair of Glenbrook Bay property owners gained a victory Wednesday in their long-opposed plan to build a pier in the wealthy, gated Lake Tahoe community.
An advisory board to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency agreed that pier building should be prohibited along the sandy beach in Glenbrook Bay as a majority of the homeowners in that area wanted. However, the TRPA Advisory Planning Commission disagreed with those same homeowners that a slice of land near the beach should be included in the pier ban.
In that slice of land is a piece of property owned by Larry Ruvo, a wealthy liquor distributor. He and Harvey Whittemore, a casino industry lobbyist, have long wanted to build a pier in Glenbrook Bay and have an application pending before TRPA staff for building one on land debated over Wednesday.
Their pier plans already have resulted in a lawsuit against them, which is now settled, and accusations of an ethical violation flap during last year’s Nevada Legislature.
Mark James, the attorney for Ruvo and the state senator involved in the ethical error, told the planning commission Wednesday that the pier ban, which was proposed by the Glenbrook Homeowners Association, was “a blatant attempt to block that pier application.”
“Don’t accept this pre-emptive challenge,” he told the board. “Let the pier application go forward on its own merits.”
TRPA staff supported the homeowners association’s desire to ban new piers along the sandy beach because they could clutter up the scenic beauty. However, staffers did not support including the slice of land next to the beach, which includes Ruvo’s property, saying it doesn’t have the same scenic qualities.
“The sandy beach – we have very few of these left that are of this high quality,” said Coleen Shade, supervisor for TRPA’s wildlife, scenic and recreation departments.
The advisory board agreed, and the governing board will have to make a final ruling at a later meeting.
“I, at this point, can fully understand and support staff’s recommendation,” said Kevin Cole, advisory board member. “It makes a lot of sense to me. I’m having a little more difficulty understanding the homeowners’ request.”
One pier exists in the half-mile sandy part of Glenbrook Bay. Owned by the homeowners’ association, the pier is supposed to be available for use by any of the 273 property owners in the Glenbrook community, regardless of their membership in the association.
In September 1998, Ruvo and Whittemore first applied for a permit to build in the bay, and that was greeted with a lawsuit against the pair.
A Glenbrook property owner last year proposed banning the construction of new piers on the bay, which James also characterized as a pre-emptive attempt to block the Ruvo-Whittemore pier.
After a three-hour hearing before the TRPA advisory committee last May, the property owners worked out an agreement with the Whittemore and Ruvo, by which the pair agreed to pull their application to build near the questionable property and Daiss halted his pursuit of the ban.
TRPA’s governing board never considered the prohibition. The lawsuit was settled.
The pier application under scrutiny now is new. And this month the homeowners association, representing about 228 Glenbrook property owners, proposed the ban.
The situation with the ethical violation was dubbed “Piergate” during the 1999 Nevada Legislature.
Lobbyist Whittemore had an amendment slipped into a Senate bill that could have helped his pier project. Having represented Ruvo during the Glenbrook lawsuit, James, a Republican senator from Las Vegas who grew up at Tahoe, recused himself from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for having a conflict of interest and then actively participated in efforts to get the bill through.
The bill later passed the Senate, but the controversial addition was gutted by the Assembly.
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