Growth control topic of workshops

The Douglas County Planning Commission is hosting a series of workshops to bring together all sides in the debate over growth.

District Attorney Scott Doyle and commissioner David Brady appeared before the Minden Town Board on Wednesday to encourage the town's participation.

The first workshop is set for April 25 at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office training room.

Doyle said the workshops also would address building permit allocation and the five-year review of the county's 1996 master plan.

"Each of us has an investment in our $3 million master plan," Doyle said. "We need to preserve the quality of life, but we don't always agree."

He said principles in the Sustainable Growth Initiative litigation have been meeting leading up to the workshops.

"I can't tell where these talks are going to go, but they're not lobbing shells over one another's bow," Doyle said.

Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee Co-Chairman John Garvin confirmed the group had been meeting privately with other involved parties.

"We're trying to reach some sort of consensus involving all the parties," Garvin said. "We don't know where this is going or if the parties will come to a consensus."

The Sustainable Growth Initiative limiting residential building permits to 280 a year was approved by voters in 2002.

Following that approval, Douglas County joined a number of local entities, including Jumpers LLC, Century 21 Clark Properties Inc., and the Douglas County Building Industry Association, charging the initiative should be invalidated because it is inconsistent with the master plan.

In February 2003, District Judge Michael Gibbons agreed.

The lower court decision was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court which remanded the issue to District Court earlier this year.

Doyle told the board that the litigation remained before the Supreme Court pending disposition of a petition for rehearing filed by Syncon Homes.

Doyle also said he wanted to clear up a misconception that a recommendation for a 2 percent building permit allocation was not an edict issued by his office.

"Building permit allocation is a subject which will be decided ultimately by the County commission based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission," Doyle said.

"This administrative process is required by state law, county code and the master plan text."

Doyle said Minden's status as a water purveyor, the town's Plan for Prosperity and stake in economic development and redevelopment underscored the responsibility to participate in the workshops.

"As an advisory board, what do we do?" asked Bruce Jacobsen. "I've sat on this board for 20 years and we're continually fighting with the county."

Doyle told the board to keep up the fight.

"This is an opportune time to come in and talk," he said. "If the citizens of Minden see the town board actively participating, you will be providing the public with information they might not have had."

As an example, town board members brought up the lack of progress on a proposed parking garage for downtown Minden and the lack of redevelopment funds for any location outside northern Douglas County.

Minden businesses say they have been promised the parking garage to alleviate a lack of parking.

Doyle recommended the town board ask that the parking garage be placed on an upcoming commission agenda.

"My personal opinion is we have to find a way to construct a multi-level parking structure in downtown Minden," Doyle said. "If we don't, we're not doing the heart of Minden any good. A bond issue is several years old. The clock is running out on that as well."

Town board members pointed out that the county has been violating its own parking standards since it moved into the renovated Minden Inn in 1993.

"The county had a five-year parking variance to construct the garage," town board member Bob Hadfield said. "The county made a commitment to abide by the standards. At what point does the county live up to its obligation? We hear all these rampant rumors. All we want is a commitment."

The board appointed Hadfield and Dave Sheets to represent their interests at the workshops.

"I think it's imperative that we participate in the process," Hadfield said. "We have a vested interest in helping it be orderly. If we don't participate, we'll be left out as we have in the past."


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