Commission to debate growth rule on Thursday

Staff Reports

An ordinance that would place controls on Douglas County's growth will go before Douglas County commissioners on Thursday.

The proposed ordinance would limit growth using the building permit process and would take effect on July 1, if approved.

Thursday's meeting is the third in an effort to introduce the ordinance and is scheduled to last two hours.

The ordinance, as written, does not include critical decisions which commissioners must make before it can be enacted, including the growth rate and whether commissioners will retain the authority to alter the rate or require voters approve any changes

Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins who has been working on the ordinance said in a memo to commissioners that if introduced on Thursday, more analysis would be required before it could be adopted.

Before the ordinance could become law, it would have to undergo a second hearing and perhaps a third.

County officials believe that hearing would be May 3 and would be followed by another on June 7, if necessary.

One question in the ordinance is the fate of the Sustainable Growth Initiative. One of the alternatives is to place the county's ordinance on the ballot along a question repealing the initiative.

Under the voter-approved initiative, a fixed limit of 280 building permits per year, based on a 2 percent growth rate from the 2000 census.

If the SGI growth rate were adopted by commissioners, a portion of those permits would be used for development approved before the ordinance took effect.

Also under consideration on Thursday alternative means of controlling growth using the development rights program suggested by commissioner Kelly Kite.

Kite argued at the March 1 meeting that because there are only 1,400 building lots presently available in the county, that the other 1,400 will be forced onto agricultural land over the next decade.

"If 17 houses are built on a one-acre parcel, 17 acres of agricultural land is saved," Kite said. "Everybody is sitting around waiting for the ranchers to keep it for them. So far, development has saved approximately 3,200 acres in the Carson Valley, ranch land. The government has saved 700 and it only took them six years to do it."

Both proposals are scheduled for discussion after 5 p.m. at the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden.


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