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Development around Lake Tahoe the subject of litigation

A regional chapter of the Sierra Club has filed federal litigation against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency over a new plan to delegate decisions on real estate development to local governments. The environmental group and its co-plaintiffs say that the plan will increase pollution in and around Lake Tahoe, but officials counter that the plan will benefit the environment while being more cost-effective.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approved the controversial plan on Dec. 12, 2012. Under the proposed plan, county governments and the government of South Lake Tahoe will be empowered to make decisions on many commercial development projects. According to the litigation, the plan will lead to a wave of dense construction around the lake, increasing pollution levels. It is also an illegal delegation of power and the local governments do not have the financial resources to enforce environmental regulations, an attorney for the plaintiffs said. The plaintiffs are asking the court to invalidate the plan.

However, some conservation groups are supporting the plan. An official with the Nevada Conservation League said TRPA's plan was developed with "many of the key stakeholders" having a say. TRPA's executive director said that discouraging population and business increases around Lake Tahoe "is not a realistic plan." Instead, the plan seeks to encourage redevelopment of older neighborhoods that cause a great deal of pollution. That redevelopment will pay for environmental improvements, the executive director said.

This litigation seems complex, since it involves questions of delegation of authority and federal environmental law. We will provide updates to our readers when we learn of them.

Source: Reno Gazette-Journal, "Critics sue to block new land use plan for Lake Tahoe," Jeff DeLong, Feb. 11, 2013

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