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Tahoe Breakwater Subject Of Lawsuit

The agency charged with protecting Lake Tahoe has sued an Incline Village man over an unauthorized breakwater that it says is causing environmental harm.

In its lawsuit filed last month in Reno federal court, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency seeks a fine of up to $250,000 from Tom Gonzales and the breakwater´s removal.

The suit calls the breakwater an unauthorized alteration that degrades Tahoe´s scenic quality and fish habitat. A breakwater is a barrier to break the impact of waves.

Gonzales was slapped with the suit after a breakdown in negotiations with the bistate agency over the breakwater´s removal.

Gonzales attorney Geno Menchetti maintains TRPA didn´t negotiate in good faith, even though Gonzales agreed to remove the breakwater from his lakefront estate after the agency told him it wasn´t allowed.

Menchetti says his own experts have told him the breakwater is not causing any environmental harm.

But the TRPA suit brands Gonzales´ actions as unreasonable, citing a missed June 19th deadline in a cease-and-desist order calling for a breakwater dismantling plan. The L-shaped breakwater, which is made up of boulders, is visible from nearby roadways.