Whittemore, Ruvo win battle to build pier near homes in Glenbrook

Harvey Whittemore and Southern Wine and Spirits owner Larry Ruvo have won their 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals battle to construct a pier adjacent to their beachfront homes in Glenbrook.

The plan was approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency after a contentious hearing in which other property owners charged that Whittemore, one of the most powerful lobbyists in the Nevada Legislature, and Ruvo used their political clout to get a permit which should have been denied.

The Glenbrook Homeowners Association argued, among other things, TRPA violated laws which should have mandated an environmental assessment and a review of "cumulative impacts" from construction of the pier and an accompanying entertainment complex. The homeowners also said an environmental impact statement should have been required for the project.

The court ruled that claim assumes TRPA is bound by rules imposed by the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Because this fundamental assumption is wrong, the Glenbrook Parties' challenges to TRPA's action fail," the opinion issued Wednesday states.

The opinion by Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy also rejects the homeowners association's claim its recreational easement to that piece of Glenbrook's beach bars construction of a pier. It notes the original easement grants owners the right to develop the property for recreational uses with the permission of TRPA, which they received.

The opinion also reversed the district court finding that Ruvo and Whittemore's properties were served by access to the existing homeowners association's pier - the only point the association won at that level.

Leif Reid, who represented Ruvo and Whittemore, said the 9th Circuit decided they were not entitled to access to the existing pier.

He said that settles all the arguments in the case in favor of Ruvo, Whittemore and the TRPA. He said the pier project can now proceed unless an appeal is filed and accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The TRPA has already approved the permit. The 9th Circuit opinion means the project can go forward."

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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