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1,061 more residents in 18 years?

It’s not easy to project the population of Douglas County, but demographers are betting only 1,061 people will move to the county over the next 18 years.

Planning and county commissioners were told on Tuesday an analysis by the University of Nevada Center for Economic Development estimated the county’s 2038 population would be 50,131, or a tenth of a percent a year.

“I’m shocked at the population projections,” Commissioner Larry Walsh said. “Only 1,000 people over the next 20 years? That’s terrific.”

And perhaps subject to change with the U.S. Census underway.

Douglas has been slow to recover from the Great Recession, but in recent years, the number of registered voters have been increasing with 36,015 active voters as of the end of July. That’s up from 33,926 active voters in July 2018.

Work on updating the Douglas County Master Plan is moving forward as county staff and consultants work out the public outreach of the program.

Work on the plan’s 20-year update was suspended in 2018, and the county is still using the amended 2011 plan.

County commissioners approved the traffic and map portions of the plan last year and now the text portion of the plan update is underway.

Planning and county commissioners met jointly on Tuesday to discuss the status of the update.

“I disagree we’re pushing this through,” Planning Commissioner Maureen Casey said. “I recall this work since 2016 and there’s been a lot of public input. At some point this document has to be completed.”

Commissioner John Engels said he felt that it was premature to complete the document until the county knows the fate of an open space initiative on the November ballot.

As part of the discussion, consultants sent out a highly technical survey to staff and commissioners.

“This is a technical survey meant for hardcore users,” Bruce Meighen of consultant Logan Simpson said. “The survey is going to be open for another week for those who want to get back into it.”

As of Tuesday, 28 people spent the more than two hours required to complete the survey.

“It is a survey we sent to the (commissioners) and staff to assist with building consensus for the meeting,” Assistant County Manager Jenifer Davidson said. “A separate public survey will go out to the public … also announcing dates and times for public workshops.”

Davidson said residents will have weeks to complete the survey.

County Planning Manager Sam Booth said the county wants to have a lot of discussion on the individual community plans.

The goal of the text update is to streamline the document and remove redundancies.

Meighen said that the poll indicated that about 70 percent of the plan, which includes 53 goals and 206 policies is done but the rest could use some work.

“You do have a lot of policies,” he said. “The largest places for refinement was on the agricultural element.”

An example is the lack of definitions in the plan of prime farmland and routine agricultural activities.

Consultants are suggesting condensing the portion of the master plan that deals with conservation, housing, parks and recreation and strengthening the public safety element.

“A lot of where we’re focusing efforts is to make this an easier to read document,” Derek Kirkland of Wood Rogers said.

Economic development and growth management were among the elements requiring the most work with the survey showing nearly half of their goals and policies should be refined.

Douglas County approved its 20-year master plan in 1997.