A Carson City land owner will spend $130,000 for local wetlands enhancement in exchange for developing part of his property that stretches across wetlands in the middle of town.
Charles Rafferty, who has owned 12 acres of partially developed land west of Goni Road and north of College Parkway for more than 10 years, will donate the money to Carson City so he can build a parking lot on one-third acre of delineated wetlands.
The wetlands is Hot Creek, at the northwest corner of College Parkway and Goni Road.
The $130,000 deal, recently approved by the Carson City Board of Supervisors, was originally suggested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Army Corps is responsible for upholding the federal government's Clean Water Act, which requires cities with populations of more than 50,000 to meet stringent quality standards for wetlands maintenance.
Last year, the Army Corps indicated to the city willingness to issue Rafferty a permit for development if he provided Carson City funds for the creation, enhancement or management of wetlands on the city's wetlands.
Rafferty must put in underground piping at the wetlands. The land is now vacant, and Rafferty has not submitted building plans to the city.
The city's wetland property is on 17 acres south of the Rafferty property.
Carson City open-space manager Juan Guzman said the deal is groundbreaking, the first such compromise struck by a property owner, the federal government and city officials for the purpose of preserving wetlands, crucial to the maintenance of water quality.
"It's first time we've been able to meet a developer's needs and enhance our wetlands at the same time," Guzman said.
Wetlands act as a sponge for runoff and sediment which could otherwise contribute to flooding and pollution of water.
The one-third of an acre is not a big loss to the city's wetlands development, he said, because it is already surrounded by development, eliminating the possibility of expansion.
"When you're talking about mitigation of wetlands, it is good to first have a sufficient size and quality so it can become an asset. This one-third of an acre is not an asset," he said.
Guzman said 30 acres in the Northridge Mountain Park wetlands area, owned by developers Dwight Millard and Jim Bawden, may soon be up for sale and accessible by the city.
The land is just north of the city's wetland.
"The main idea is to be able to tap into the effluent line running on College Parkway and use those waters to enhance the wetlands," he said. "It's technically difficult, and we may have to do more work than is reasonable."
Guzman said city engineers and officials will determine which option is more feasible.
Rafferty agreed to deposit the $130,000 into an escrow account to be used by Carson City for maintenance of its 17 acres or to purchase 30 more acres of wetlands.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at email@example.com or 888-0564.