Judge rules against eminent domain for redevelopment: Carson City Nevada Appeal, 12/15/06

By William Ferchland

A judge's decision may have stalled the timeline for a massive redevelopment project while it kept one store in business for a few more months.

Judge Jerald Lasarow denied the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency from using eminent domain to transform boutique store Lakeside Landing into a sales office that would use money from presales to help finance construction.

"We are very pleased with the court's decision and happy our employees are secure with jobs and health insurance over the winter season," said Margaret Maxhimer, owner of the store with husband, John.

Lasarow, who heard both sides argue before him in El Dorado County Superior Court last week, ruled Wednesday that the owners of Lakeside Landing will face "substantial" hardship if they closed by Jan. 10, the date requested by redevelopment officials.

Instead, the business will close April 8. Lasarow said representatives with the redevelopment project are allowed to access the property within reason for planning purposes.

In his ruling, Lasarow agreed with Claudia Gorham, attorney for the Maxhimers, who argued the impending closure of a Taco Bell and an existing, neighboring sales office could be used.

"This location (of the existing sales office) is near the major casinos and not far from the ski gondola," Lasarow wrote. "Many visitors walk by this location."

But Eugene Palazzo, redevelopment and housing director for South Lake Tahoe, said that sales office is for a different project.

Palazzo said he needs time to analyze the ripple effect from Lasarow's decision. He was unsure if the projected May date for construction will remain.

"I need to work with the developer to see what this means," he said.

Stacey Sheston, attorney for the redevelopment agency, said modifying Taco Bell or another business into a sales office could be in the six figures. Lasarow said the reasoning was unfounded.

"The plaintiff has failed to show this court what expenditures would be required to remodel other possible locations as compared to the property in question," he wrote. "One of the declarations stated an estimate of 400,000 to 500,000 dollars could be incurred if another location were used for the sales office. This seems to be speculation since there are no estimates submitted as to the actual cost and no breakdown for each of the possible locations."

The proposed $410 million project will face the Marriott timeshare hotels and Heavenly Village along Lake Tahoe Boulevard near Stateline.

Carson City Nevada Appeal: http://www.nevadaappeal.com