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Scenic regulation opponents activate suit

Rick Adair, Nevada Appeal News Service

A group opposed to new shoreland scenic rules for the Tahoe Basin asked a federal court to have them tossed out.

The Committee for Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe served a lawsuit on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Thursday, making good a promise last month by Bob Wheeler, the group’s president and an Incline

Village real estate professional.

Agency spokeswoman Pam Drum said the suit was served Thursday.

Wheeler said TRPA exceeded the authority given in its founding compact when it adopted scenic rules in November that control the color, size, visibility and windows of houses on Tahoe’s shore.

He said the rules will allow the natural landscape to dominate the manmade. Wheeler said the compact calls for an equilibrium between the landscapes.

“TRPA has gone far past the intent created in the compact and must be legally challenged to bring them into compliance,” Wheeler said in a prepared statement.

Thursday’s action by the committee follows the filing of a lawsuit on Oct. 22 that challenged the scenic portion of TRPA’s Threshold Evaluation Report. The report is an environmental report card detailing the agency’s progress in nine environmental areas, or “thresholds.”

The report, adopted in July by the agency’s Governing Board, authorized changing the scenic ordinances largely to address homes that dominated Tahoe’s shore.

TRPA granted the committee extensions of the 60-day period to legally challenge the report on the assumption it was working in good faith to reach a compromise acceptable to environmental groups, the committee and several real estate concerns.

Efforts toward compromise crumbled when the committee filed the October suit, ostensibly to protect its rights. TRPA Executive Director Juan Palma said he would have extended the deadline as long as the group negotiated in good faith.

Wednesday, the agency’s Governing Board will take up several refinements to the scenic ordinances. The issues include cross references to related rules; third-party review clarification; height-finding clarification; consistent use of terms like “project area” and “site”; and clarification of mitigation intent when a structure exceeds visible area standards.