Federal agency approves first area plan for Tahoe
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The first area plan for Tahoe was approved on Wednesday by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The Douglas County plan gives more authority to local government to approve projects in the basin.
It acts as a framework for where certain economic activity and development can take place. Under Tahoe's updated regional plan, the counties and local jurisdictions on the lake's shoreline are responsible for developing one. The Douglas plan delegates the permitting of projects in certain parts of the South Shore, mostly in the lower Kingsbury area, to the county, instead of to the federal agency.
Numerous businesses and public officials applauded the plan, one of them was Lew Feldman who's with the South Tahoe Alliance of Resorts (STAR).
"So what this plan does is incentivizes environmental redevelopment in an area where we would never achieve the scenic gains without adoption of this plan."
Feldman says, for example, the plan would enable a building to be modified, if best management practices are used and the building is moved back from the shoreline.
Many at the meeting also took the opportunity to correct what was called the "misinformation campaign" waged by the Sierra Club, which has sued TRPA over its updated regional plan.
Shelly Aldean is the Chair of the TRPA Governing Board.
"I'm rather offended by the insinuation that local government representatives are unreliable and can't be trusted to do what's in the best interest of the lake."
Others said conservation groups would like to turn everything back into trees in the basin.
Laurel Ames is with the Sierra Club. She says the plan doesn't protect water quality in the South Shore, particularly around the casinos and resorts.
"You have 25 years of violations and failures; the monitoring is completely inadequate, and there is no report of what the outflow is to the lake. And if you walked down to the lake this summer, you know how bad it was."
Douglas County takes up about 18 percent of the shoreline, and officials say that swath of land is only responsible for 3 percent of the fine sediment that enters the lake and impacts lake clarity.
The board overwhelmingly approved the plan.