by Scott Neuffer

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October 3, 2012
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Service Drive becomes focus of town board vote

Barely a quorum of Gardnerville town board members made a protest vote out of a perfunctory resolution to prohibit left turns from Service Drive onto Highway 395.

On Tuesday night, with both chairman Paul Lindsay and vice chairman Ken Miller absent for the item, the remaining three members of the board voted to not approve Resolution 2012R-077, but added they would support maintenance of a no-turn sign at the location.

Town Manager Tom Dallaire explained that Douglas County sought the formal resolution as part of traffic changes for the new Walmart.

"This is the only item that will ever go to the county commission about Walmart," he said.

A design review for the 152,373-square-foot superstore, expected to open by the end of November, failed to win approval of the town board in 2009, when members split 2-2 on the item. The design was later approved administratively in Douglas County Community Development and never went before the planning or county commissions.

Two weeks ago, Atlas Contractors laid an 880-foot median along Highway 395 to create a stacking lane for a new intersection at Grant Avenue, which will serve as the entrance to the store and also provide an alternative route to Service Drive.

The median fueled indignation among local businesses on Service Drive, not because their customers couldn't turn left from Service Drive onto the highway, but because direct access to Service Drive from the highway was blocked altogether.

The median was part of overall Walmart street improvements approved by the county and the Nevada Department of Transportation. Even though NDOT officials have distanced themselves from the project, Dallaire said the improvements followed state design standards. He said it was difficult, even as town manager, to obtain approved plans from the state, and suggested it wasn't fair to blame the county.

In fact, Dallaire believed the median wasn't going to be installed until the store was open and an alternative route established.

"The median shouldn't have gone in, in my opinion, so soon, but we didn't have a choice," he said.

Although more bookkeeping than decisive agenda item, the resolution provided disaffected town board members with the opportunity to show support for local businesses.

"I don't know if we could have stopped it," said acting chair Mike Philips, "but we sure didn't do those guys any favors."

County commissioners will discuss the item at their regular meeting in Minden, which starts 1 p.m. Thursday.

n In other news, Gardnerville officials are hoping to find sponsors for a fireworks show during the town's Christmas Kickoff event, scheduled for Nov. 28 in Heritage Park.

Manager Tom Dallaire is moving forward with a $8,000 contract with Lantis Fireworks and Lasers. He said East Fork Fire approves of the winter show as long as brush on the launch site, just west of the Gilman ponds, is mowed.

"It is our liability if there is a fire," Dallaire said. "We would be responsible for them (East Fork) putting it out."

Town board members view the Christmas show as a test run for a potentially larger pyrotechnics display on July 4, 2013. A 15-20 minute show on the Fourth would cost $15,000-$20,000, Dallaire said. It would also pose greater liability for the town. But the upside might be significant.

"There have never been fireworks on the Fourth of July in Carson Valley," said board member Lloyd Higuera. "It would put the town on the map and give us a unique identity."

Higuera said the town couldn't proceed with such an expensive event without community sponsors.

"They take every precaution to not set the town on fire," he said of Lantis, which also performs the Lake Tahoe show. "They are very professional."

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 3, 2012 01:01PM Published Oct 3, 2012 12:56PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.