by Scott Neuffer

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December 13, 2012
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Senior apartments moving forward

An Idaho-based developer of low-income apartments is a step closer to fulfilling an economic need identified in the Douglas County Master Plan Update of 2011: affordable senior housing.

On Wednesday, planning commissioners voted 4-1, with commissioners Kevin Servatius and Don Miner absent and Jim Madsen voting nay, to approve a 2-story planned development on about 8 acres of vacant land along Stodick Parkway in south Gardnerville.

Spearheaded by New Beginnings Housing, LLC, the Parkway Vista Apartments will include 30 rental units with associated amenities and parking on 2 acres of multifamily property, a detention pond on 1.2 acres, and future phasing available on the remaining 5 acres.

In their approval, planning commissioners greenlighted three variances to code: a reduction in the number of required parking spaces from 68 to 57; a reduction in the number of required storage units from 30 to 23; and a reduction in the number of required RV parking spaces from four to zero.

According to county staff, the parking variances comport with figures from the Institute of Traffic Engineers Parking Generation Manual, which indicate that low-income seniors don't need or use as many parking spaces as other populations. Because the project is low-income, RV parking was likewise deemed extraneous.

Madsen objected to this last point. He argued that visitors may have RVs even if tenants don't.

"I think four is too many, but I think zero is too few," he said. "You need a couple of spaces designated so that you don't run into a conflict with county requirements."

Applicant Greg Urrutia said low-income seniors typically don't utilize RV parking.

"From our perspective, we find that 57 spaces results in significant over-parking," he said. "Typically, of those 30 residents, not all of them will have cars. We assume that guest parking will alleviate some of that need (RV parking). Our goal is to reduce the overall amount of asphalt on-site."

Planning commissioner Jeremy Davidson agreed with other board members that RV parking is not essential.

"Because it's low-income, I don't see too many people with motor homes," he said. "If they are there, it would be for a short period of time. I don't think it would be a long-term problem."

As for reducing required storage space, planners Lucille Rao and Natalia Moore concluded the variance was reasonable "based on the design of the interior of the apartment units supplying ample storage and closet space."

"Parkway Vista Apartments will meet the housing needs of the community while developing a project that is functional, meets code requirements, and is a desired infill project," they said in their report. "The location and proximity of the site to the future Douglas County Community and Senior Center, shopping, hospitals and doctors makes this project a prime example of meeting the goals, and actions, and policies of the Douglas County Master Plan.

"The design is compatible with the existing Arbor Gardens subdivision to the east and the Crestmore Village Apartments to the north."

For this specific project, the developer received low-income housing tax credits from the Nevada Housing Division. Under the state agreement, seven units will be provided at 35 percent of the current area median income of $76,900. Eighteen units will be provided at 40 percent of the median income, and five units at 45 percent.

The property will also be deed-restricted as senior housing for 50 years.

"This is the first senior project in Douglas County," said planning commissioner JoEtta Brown. "It's well-planned and thought out."

Planning Chair Margaret Pross lauded the developer's plan to include 35 percent open space versus the required 25 percent. The applicant expects to break ground next year and complete construction by next fall.

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The Record Courier Updated Dec 13, 2012 06:26PM Published Dec 13, 2012 06:24PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.