TRPA contractor fined for violation

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency found trouble in its own backyard, or at least its future backyard.

The agency wants Jet Construction, a group working to remodel the agency's new headquarters on Kingsbury Grade in March, to pay $5,000 for illegal digging.

TRPA inspectors found Jet had excavated 12 cubic yards of dirt, nine more than allowed by the laws set for the basin at this time of year. Moving that much dirt is illegal from October to May, a regulation meant to limit erosion from storms.

TRPA staff will propose the fine to settle the matter when its Governing Board meets today at the Horizon Casino Resort.

Jet moved the dirt to create footings for 24 columns at 128 Market St. in South Lake Tahoe, a warehouse being remodeled to house TRPA. It houses a print shop, excavation contracting business and cabinet shop.

"Most of them are cosmetic columns, and they could have waited until May," said Brian Judge, senior environmental specialist. "When you added up (the digging), it added up to quite a bit."

The only contractors allowed to dig this time of year are those working on public health and safety, and water quality projects, Judge said.

The Governing Board is expected to address three other violations:

-- Carl Bucholz, a construction worker who lives off Kingsbury Grade, and a contractor he hired, F & B, are being fined $40,000 for excavation work done in May without TRPA approval. Bucholz told the agency that he hired F & B to fill in his sloped backyard so his children could play in it. As part of a deal yet to be approved, Bucholz would pay $10,000 in fines and F & B would pay $30,000. The agreement also requires the fill to be removed from the yard before June 15.

-- Last fall, a 60-inch wide Jeffrey pine was felled before it was inspected by a licensed forester, and more than 500 cubic yards of soil was moved after the October grading deadline. The TRPA is asking is the board for a settlement that would include a $15,000 fine. The actions occurred last fall on Cascade Road. Brig Ebright was in charge of excavation, and tree surgeon Ed Cook felled the pine.

-- Dean Crouse of Lake Village is being fined $5,000 and as-yet-unspecified restoration work for cutting down a 12-inch-diameter tree near his home. A member of the Lake Village Homeowners' Association reported the fallen tree. Crouse told TRPA that the tree had been marked for removal and said he feared it might fall on his car. Jesse Jones, a TRPA forester, said the marking was unauthorized, and that the tree may have been removed to enhance Crouse's view of Lake Tahoe.


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