Builders and residents in the Incline Village area have raised concerns the permits they need for the coming construction season will be delayed because Washoe County has put its permitting system on hold.
But Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, whose district includes Incline Village and Crystal Bay, said the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is working with the commission and county to make sure the permitting process continues while they finalize the agreement.
Washoe County and TRPA have had a Memorandum of Understanding allowing the county to expedite issuance of building permits for residential additions, new single and multi-family residential structures and some commercial projects since 1996.
Berkbigler said that process was interrupted late last year when the Washoe planner who handled that process left unexpectedly.
"The person who was our representative who worked with TRPA and handled these permits for developers in the community came in one morning and said, 'Hi, I'm retiring," she said.
Berkbigler said that left Washoe County with few options because of the complexity of the regulations builders must follow in the Tahoe Basin. So the county told TRPA it had to put the MOU on hold until it can get a new Washoe planner/inspector up to speed at Incline Village.
But she and Tom Lotshaw, public information officer for the TRPA, said that doesn't mean no permits will be issued. Lotshaw said TRPA has agreed to put one of its planners in the Washoe County complex at Incline Village one day a week to process permit applications.
"Developers are still a little nervous because Washoe County has done such a good job working with them," Berkbigler said.
She said their problem is TRPA takes significantly longer to process applications than the county. She said as part of the interim arrangement, TRPA has committed to processing those permits in three to four weeks instead of several months.
Lotshaw said the goal is to process permits in the Washoe County area of the basin in 30 days or less.
Berkbigler said the arrangement will probably last through this permit season, "because it takes a while to bring somebody up to speed."
Those permit applications filed before the change in December will still be handled by Washoe County so they aren't delayed.
TRPA Planning Division Manager Wendy Jepson said the agency's staff is ready to help people with Washoe area projects. She urged anyone with a question to contact front counter planner Aly Borawski at 775-589-5229
"TRPA has been wonderful," Berkbigler said. "It shouldn't be a big deal."