Candidates views on growth cap
Even before the Sustainable Growth Initiative was placed on the ballot and then drawn into court, growth was slated to be a primary issue in the two Douglas County commission races this November.
This year, growth cap supporters have argued a proposed limit of 280 new dwelling units in Carson Valley is needed because county commissioners have not implemented parts of Douglas County’s master plan, mainly a capital improvements plan and a building permit allotment system to slow growth in Carson Valley.
Each commission candidate is scheduled to address a Business Council of Douglas County breakfast this morning about the growth initiative, along with a three-pronged gas tax proposal and economic development.
The two county commission incumbents and their respective challengers were each asked this week if the commission should be examining growth in the Valley and using what SGI supporters claim is an unused portion of the master plan.
District Two Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said he wants to tackle growth issues in the Valley as soon as possible.
Etchegoyhen also said drought conditions in Douglas County have made residents more nervous about water issues in Carson Valley.
“It’s obvious if we don’t address the growth issue today, it’s going to get much more complicated in the future,” Etchegoyhen said. “I’d rather address it now.”
If the commission adopts a a building permit allocation system, which is also allowed in the master plan, it needs to be based on a “fact-based analysis,” Etchegoyhen said.
“I don’t know what number is right, but there’s a number of reasons to control growth in Douglas County,” Etchegoyhen said. “It’s obvious to me the vast majority of citizens want” to control growth.
“The issue of growth will keep coming back until we deal with it,” he said. “We just need to flat do it.”
Etchegoyhen added he has no intention for developers to pay more than their fair share of the cost of growth.
Etchegoyhen’s opponent, former planning commission member Michael Hayes, said the commission is overdue implementing a capital improvements plan.
Hayes said the capital improvements plan should be used as soon as possible to limit the impact of growth on taxpayers.
“We’re five years late on this thing,” he said. The program will put county service levels on the “same footing,” Hayes said.
“The idea is development pays for itself,” Hayes said. “It does not currently pay for itself. Taxpayers are subsidizing development’s impacts.”
County Commission Chairman Don Miner, who represents District Four said Monday since the adoption of Douglas County’s master plan the commission has implemented components of the master plan and certain capital improvement plans.
The master plan calls for Capital Improvement plans and requires developers to offset development costs.
“We’re getting closer and closer,” Miner said. The two-term incumbent envisions a hydrology study provided for in the master plan along with capital improvement plans being considered by commissioners about one year from now.
Miner said when the commission brings capital improvement plans together from previouslyDapproved development plans and develops a hydrology study which can be developed from other water studies, it can determine impact fees and the rate for an “appropriate level of impact fees.
“If they would have been paying attention to the various plans, (Sustainable Growth Initiative supporters) would know it’s embedded” in the proposals, Miner said. “It’s quite easy to bridge all those (capital improvements) into a big document.
“It’s not that we’ve been waiting for anything,” Miner said. “We’ve been working toward it. People want the master plan implemented and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for six years.”
The master plan was adopted in 1996.
Miner’s opponent for the District Four commission seat, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Chief Tim Smith, said growth and water use are obviously big issues facing the commission.
Smith said he doesn’t think the Sustainable Growth Initiative is the best way to handle growth in Carson Valley.
“I think it has negative domino affects in the county that don’t make it the proper way to deal with growth and planning,” he said. “The county still needs to grow at a reasonable rate.
“If we don’t grow at an adequate rates, taxes will go up,” Smith said.
The candidate also favors a hydrology study to learn the “serious, true facts” of water usage and what it can be, he said.
“It has to be a part of the planning process,” Smith said. “Water itself is a finite resource. Any way you want to slice it, there is only so much water that’s going to be available in the future.”
n Staff Writer Scott Murphy can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org