Planning commission denies appeal

Planning commissioners denied an appeal by Minden Townhomes residents, who said they didn't want a three-story hotel, part of the proposed Minden Gateway Center, in their back yards.

"Moving the hotel forward is not the best thing for promotion of the site," said Commissioner Jim Madsen. "The developer has the freedom to make the best use of his property. It's zoned general commercial and the developer is exercising his right."

"I think the center will be a real asset to the community," said Commissioner Bob McKinney.

Traffic issues were another concern for those appealing and according to a study by Solaegui Engineers Ltd., the center is expected to generate about 6,000 average daily trips.

The area now averages between 26,000 and 32,000 trips daily, according to information from the Nevada Department of Transportation.

McKinney said all of Douglas County has traffic problems.

"Unless someone puts gates around the community, we're going to have traffic issues," he said.

The appeal was underscored by the Minden Town Board, who said in a letter to planning commissioners that successful commercial development has been seriously hampered by the north-end retail centers subsidized by county taxpayers.

"We believe this issue can be resolved by the county updating the required distance separation of facilities serving liquor and the high school," the board said. "We feel Douglas County has an obligation to our town to take actions that would encourage and assist the proposed Gateway Center, and enable the most effective placement of the hotel for the affected residents."

Project architect Darren Burger said everything in the center is integrated and moving buildings could mean a loss of commercial quality.

"If we move the hotel, people won't be able to move around the commercial center as well," he said. "It's not a trivial thing to talk about changing a building's function."

Project spokesman Dave Wasick said a lot of time has been spent on the project.

"We've made all the compromises we can," he said. "To change the project now would make it unviable."

Elizabeth Ludel, who is involved with school board traffic safety, said she had heard a lot about bricks and cement, but not much about the people affected.

"I don't know how much time has been spent studying that intersection but someone needs to take a look at it," she said. "We have 1,564 students at Douglas High School. What about the people who live here, those who fund our tax structure?"

Located on 13.3 acres just south of the junction of Highway 395 and State Route 88, the proposed center includes more than 138,000 square feet of commercial space, and an additional 6,500 square feet for a restaurant. Space designated for the 80-room hotel is located on the western edge of the property next to the townhomes.

Long's Drugs, Sizzler and Sierra Nevada Trading Company have all expressed interest in the project, according to information from developer Sky West Real Estate Services.

The development will be skirted by multi-family and single-family homes, commercial development, office buildings and Douglas High School.

In other business:

n By a 4-2 vote, commissioners approved an ordinance that will regulate nitrate removal treatment systems, used for single-family homes where the discharge of nitrates could contaminate the water table.

Commissioners Rick Ross and Matt McKinney cast the two dissenting votes, saying they felt the reduced level required by the ordinance, 10 mg/liter, was too stringent.


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