Jack Van Dien

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October 16, 2012
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Consider the consequences


A major failure of successive Douglas County commissions as well as county government over the several years I have critiqued their activities is their failure to think through all of the consequences of their decisions. Time and again they find themselves in reactive mode, because they were insufficiently proactive.

That was extremely transparent with their poorly planned water and sewage systems. For decades county management set water rates for Cave Rock, Zephyr Cove, and Skyland at the Lake which were insufficient to provide a cash reserve for replacement. They took decisions to buy pipes and equipment to support a development with no thought to what the investment might require rates to be. Rates were only an after-thought, with the result that county water is ridiculously expensive compared to the towns and several GIDs which have been far better managed. They cut a deal with several industrial lot owners and developers to share 50-50 the cost of building a sewage plant, with no standby fees to those lot owners who failed to find a buyer, without considering in advance what the monthly rates might be. In other words, without calculating what the county's share of investment might manifest in monthly user rates. The result is, as with the water, ridiculously expensive user rates compared with several other systems in the county. Or perhaps they did know that sharing the cost 50-50 was a giveaway to landowners and developers, and cut the deal anyway. Not too unusual for county commissioners who share membership in the Business Council of Douglas County, members of which bankroll election campaigns for favored candidates. Just check the state election website for contributions to current candidates to see who are favored insiders or outsiders.

It was again transparent when they voted for the Riverwood Owners Participation Agreement to pay $24.7 million in installment payments for development of a new north county commercial development. In public comment I complained the agreement was the worst-written commercial contract I had ever read, and then-district attorney Scott Doyle replied that it had been written in the Planning Department. The agreement had no sunset date, and recently the county agreed to a pay-off to the developer of some $650,000. Again, a pay-off to a developer with no value to our county. All because the then-Kelly Kite Board of Commissioners arrogantly dismissed many who criticized the agreement, and failed to provide a Plan-B.

The latest obvious planning failure is the Highway 395 left turn barrier which NDOT installed for the new Walmart, which clearly disenfranchises Ahern Rentals. Only a month or two ago I asked the Board during public comment what they were doing to plan traffic patterns for future Walmart shoppers from around the Valley. Basically their reply was "Nothing." Now Nothing becomes a serious problem for an existing retailer. All because the board allowed approval of the Walmart development without ordering a thorough traffic impact study. Arrogance often stands in the way of adequate effective thinking. Think on this when you vote.

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 16, 2012 05:38PM Published Oct 16, 2012 05:36PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.