Although actual construction in the county moved at a slow pace last year, major plans for future development, specifically in Gardnerville, were vetted by the Douglas County Planning Commission, according to the board's 2012 Activities Report.
"The Douglas County Planning Commission held 11 meetings during calendar year 2012," wrote county planner Candace Stowell. "The highlights of 2012 included the final review and approval of the 15-year update of the Douglas County Master Plan, the approval of the Community Wellhead Protection Plan as an amendment to the environmental resources and conservation element, and the approval of the new public services and facilities element of the master plan."
Planning commissioners also approved requests for at least three major developments in town.
On Jan. 10, 2012, they narrowly approved an amended subdivision map for The Ranch at Gardnerville, the developers of which have built at least two dozen homes.
While planning commissioners approved seven of nine variances for The Ranch, they denied requests for direct access onto Heybourne Road, designated as a major collector, and a reduction of the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.
"You have to ask the question whether the county is willing to give up an established, designated roadway for this one project, and what that would do to the master plan overall," Community Development Director Mimi Moss said at the time.
In early February, though, after hearing from developers, builders and real estate agents, county commissioners reversed course and approved the variances rejected by the advisory board.
It wasn't the last time planning commissioners had to review the project.
On Sept. 14, the advisory board unanimously approved additional modifications to the 633-unit development, including another extension of the development schedule, an increase of multifamily units to offset a decrease of single-family homes, a variance to allow front-yard setbacks of 10 feet instead of 20 feet, a variance to allow driveway access onto Heybourne Road for later phases, and the reduction of the speed limit on Heybourne from 30 mph to 25 mph, among other items.
County commissioners approved the same modifications in October.
In the commercial realm, planning commissioners in June approved a tentative commercial subdivision map on 22 acres surrounding the new Walmart in south Gardnerville.
Part of the Virginia Ranch Planned Development and Specific Plan, conceptual maps for the site showed 11 buildings totaling 125,232 square feet clustered on the southern and western flanks of the anchor store. The county stipulated 26 conditions of approval that the applicant, Sierra Nevada SW Enterprises, must meet before a final map can be recorded. All future buildings within the subdivision must undergo a design review process with Douglas County Community Development and the Town of Gardnerville.
In the last month of the year, fulfilling a need identified in the master plan update, planning commissioners greenlighted an affordable senior housing project along Stodick Parkway in Gardnerville.
On Dec. 12, they voted 4-1 to approve plans for the 30-unit Parkway Vista Apartments. The application included three variances related to parking and storage.
"This is the first senior project in Douglas County," said planning commissioner JoEtta Brown. "It's well planned and thought out."
The same development application is scheduled to be reviewed by county commissioners on Monday.
The advisory board ended their year in December by hearing an update on the Douglas County Conservation Bill, which, if passed by the 113th U.S. Congress, could fund conservation easements for several family ranches in Carson Valley.