Commissioner get open space plan thursday | RecordCourier.com
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Commissioner get open space plan thursday

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County leaders will begin taking a closer look Thursday at an open space preservation plan that could answer many logistical questions.

A semi-private coalition of Carson Valley ranchers, business people and residents assembled the 40-page plan and presented it April 20, a month after the county commission challenged them to compile it.

Open meeting rules prevented the commissioners from discussing the plan that day, but a 45-minute hearing is scheduled Thursday.

“We hope they will take over the plan and finalize it,” said Dave Bolick, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the coalition. “I think it’s a good base to start from. I think we’ve done a good job of getting it done.”

The document repeats many of the philosophies and goals listed in the 1996 master plan about the value of preserving undeveloped land, and lists several methods. The top suggestion is to acquire conservation easements, in which willing landowners are paid to not develop their property.

Other options include land exchanges, transferring development rights to other property and clustering houses to maintain an uncluttered view.

Bolick said he’s heard “good feedback” about the plan, though details like which properties should be protected and how to pay for the efforts aren’t included.

Potential funding methods include a quarter-cent sales tax, a real estate transfer tax or a 1-cent property tax hike. Douglas voters will probably be asked to vote on one in November.

Once a funding source is identified and policies for implementing the plan are decided, a final plan can be adopted.

Before that happens, County Manager Dan Holler is suggesting public hearings and planning commission reviews should be held. That process would probably take at least two months, because the planning board probably wouldn’t see the plan until June.

While the plan is being reviewed, a separate citizens committee will be writing arguments on the proposed funding methods.

The committee is to be appointed May 18 and commissioners have indicated the group will be asked to write arguments for all three questions, even though the coalition and the Chamber of Commerce support sending the sales tax proposal to voters.

The endorsement is based on a survey that found 59 percent of 400 people queried said they would support a quarter-cent sales tax hike to pay for preserving open space.

Bolick said a representative from the group that conducted the poll will address the commission later in the month.

Details

What: Douglas County Commission meets to discuss an open space implementation plan.

When: Thursday, 1 p.m. at the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.