Zephyr Cove man fined $120K for illegal construction
A Zephyr Cove man must pay $120,000 for illegally building a retaining wall on his Lake Tahoe property.
Officials said Edgar Roberts illegally constructed a sloping rockwall revetment – or retaining wall – into the shorezone area of his property located in the 1000 block of State Route 50 in Douglas County near Zephyr Cove, over a 28-day period in 2008.
According to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Roberts extended the wall onto a neighboring property owner’s land, imported material to fill in eroded portions of his own property behind the original wall, operated heavy industrial equipment in the shorezone and failed to install temporary erosion control measures known as Best Management Practices.
In all, Roberts incurred 10 code violations over the 28 days, said TRPA Associate Attorney Scott Lichtig.
Roberts did not answer phone calls at his home seeking comment.
“The Governing Board hopes that this type of unfortunate violation can be used to highlight the importance of environmental protections at Lake Tahoe,” said Shelly Aldean, chair of the TRPA Legal Committee and governing board member, during Wednesday’s board meeting at The Chateau in Incline Village. “While we appreciate that there was no malice involved, the imposition of this fine will hopefully help to remind the public that there a process that needs to be followed when working in environmentally sensitive areas.”
Another reason for the heavy monetary penalty, Lichtig said, was because Roberts knew he was violating TRPA codes in carrying out the project.
“Significantly, Roberts has admitted to TRPA that he was both aware that: 1) a TRPA permit was required to undertake the shorezone project and 2) reconstruction of the rockwall further into the shorezone, as conceived and eventually built, was prohibited by TRPA’s construction and design standards,” a TRPA summary stated.
Roberts was also ordered to modify the rockwall to bring it in compliance with TRPA regulations.
“This resolution sends a message to the public that it must follow the rules this agency sets forth,” said TRPA General Counsel Nicole Rinke. “It also acts as a deterrent for others considering not following (TRPA’s) rules.”
The settlement was achieved through a two-year mediation by U.S. District Court Judge Robert A. McQuaid. The governing board approved the settlement at Wednesday’s meeting.
Lichtig said legal staff consulted 15 previous cases involving violations of TRPA code and subsequent fines before finalizing the $120,000 penalty.
TRPA’s bistate compact authorizes penalties of no more than $5,000 per code violation, but allows for an additional $5,000 for each day the violation persists. The compact further directs TRPA to increase penalties for willful and/or knowing violations of the code.