Land-use expert sent back to the drawing board by Lyon commissioners

A land-use consultant was asked to re-examine his data by the Lyon County Board of Commissioners after he gave what they believed were low estimates of expected growth over the next five years.

At the first of two public hearings on land-use assumptions, the commissioners asked that Tom Pippin, a consultant with BBC Research & Consulting of Denver, audit the results of the five databases he used in his calculations, and add information from more Lyon County sources.

Land-use assumptions are used to calculate growth; determine what capital improvements such as roads, storm sewers and police stations will be needed; then estimate what those improvements will cost; and set impact fees high enough to cover those costs.

Pippin gave the commissioners a "conservative" estimate of Lyon's expected growth, using data from the county assessor, the Nevada State Demographer and commercial database companies AGS, Claritas and PopStats.

"There is no perfect database, but by averaging five different ones, we will have a conservative estimate," Pippin said. "It's possible that you may get more households, and it's also possible that you may get less."

Pippin said it was better to have a conservative estimate than to overestimate growth, begin expensive projects, then not have enough residential and non-residential development to pay for them. But he said his estimates were of unit costs, so the impact of over- or underestimating growth would be limited.

He added that the three commercial data providers he consulted were "not as bullish on Lyon County" because of limited water resources and the possibility of a drop in the real estate market.

Pippin estimated that over the next five years, a 31 percent increase in population for Lyon County, with a 5.5 percent annual growth rate. Of the four areas studied, Pippin estimated that Fernley will experience the highest growth rate at 7.3 percent followed by Central Lyon County at 5.4 percent, Smith Valley at 3.5 percent and Mason Valley at 2.9 percent.

Several commissioners expressed doubt about the low numbers Pippin offered.

"They don't take into account what is happening around Lyon County, such as the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park, which has 38 properties in escrow now, 500 companies that are major manufacturers, and that will have a major impact on Lyon County," said commissioner Leroy Goodman. "I think you need to check these databases."

In questioning Pippin's numbers, commissioner Chet Hillyard and Lyon County Planning Director Steve Hasson noted the large volume of Californians moving to Nevada.

Pippin was directed to work with Lyon officials to add information not used by the three commercial database firms and also audit the five data sources to make sure they used late-breaking data.

The second part of the two-part hearing, set for Oct. 20 at the regular commissioners meeting, will include the new numbers on growth, as well as the cost of needed infrastructure and estimated impact fees.

n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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