- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An environmental review of a development plan for the Lake Tahoe region adequately addressed concerns about the lake’s water quality, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the review and said the drafters of the development plan reasonably concluded that it would not have a significant effect on the lake’s water, given expected improvements in pollution management.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit by environmental groups that sought to block implementation of the plan adopted in 2012 by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The plan generally restricts future development to areas that are already developed.

The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore said it would pose a threat to the lake’s ecosystem. Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr, a lawyer for the groups, said he did not immediately know whether they would appeal.

“We’re dealing with a paradoxical plan to rescue and restore Lake Tahoe from the ravages of overurbanization … through a plan to increase the urbanization,” he said.

The two environmental groups have said the plan will allow an additional 3,200 residential units and 200,000 square feet of new commercial floor space in the Tahoe Basin.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has said the new plan authorizes less than half as much new development as a 1987 regional plan, maintains growth caps and urban boundary limits on all development, bars new high-rises and authorizes no new hotel units.

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