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Commissioners defend master plan

by Sheila Gardner, Record-Courier editor

The word on the street is that Douglas County’s master plan is changed at the drop of a hat, an allegation county commissioners vehemently denied Thursday.

Commissioners agreed to a Nov. 9 meeting with the planning commission to launch a year-long update of the land use document, which was passed in 1996.

“We’ve approved 21 master plan amendments in five years. That’s three or four a year,” said Commissioner Steve Weissinger. “It’s not a rule that the master plan is constantly being changed, it’s the exception.”

However, said Commissioner Bernie Curtis, the perception in the community is “that we’re changing it every week. We’re not and I don’t know why the community feels the opposite. It is a solid plan.”

He reminded Commssioner Jacques Etchegoyhen of the days when they both served on the planning commission and one night approved 19 master plan amendments.

“We were there until 2 a.m., and it was very contentious,” Curtis said.

County planning manager Mimi Moss forwarded about 15 items the planning commission identified as topics for discussion.

They included beginning a new round of community workshops to talk about specific site plans, updated statistical information, a review of transfer of development rights and purchase of development rights, economic development issues, and floodplain development.

Etchegoyhen suggested that the planning commission might want to begin a master plan for the 60 percent of Douglas County property under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction.

“We are glaringly lacking a joint plan with the Bureau of Land Management,” he said. “It was just too big of a project when we were doing the master plan, but that’s 60 percent of our county and it’s time.”

Commissioner Kelly Kite said he was not eager to make many changes in the master plan.

“For five years we have been reviewing it. This is a master plan, it’s not an edict, it’s not a manifesto. There’s probably not a lot in there I am going to have an appetite to change. I’m not comparing the two, but look at our Constitution. In 200 years, it hasn’t been changed very much,” Kite said.

Moss suggested officials and the public might want to review the differences between the master plan, developement code and design manual.

“Let’s separate out the master plan, which is a land use plan, from the develoment code which is implementation of the master plan and the design manual which is the detail,” she said.

Commissioners plan to meet from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 9, then begin the joint meeting with the planning commissions. Invitations will be sent to representatives of the Washoe Tribe, BLM and U.S. Forest Service.