County OKs Westwood amendment
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted to allow a zoning map amendment for development of private recreation, office commercial and single family projects in the area known as Westwood Village #5.
The area, next to the Carson Valley Swim Center as well as many residences, has been the subject of much controversy due to concerns from area residents.
Before approval, many of the area’s residents addressed the commission, expressing disapproval of the project.
Area resident Dan Kaffer said his residence is about 100 yards from the site. Kaffer, who is also the Western Nevada Resource, Conservation and Development area coordinator, asked “why now?”
Kaffer said that the flood the area experienced at the beginning of this year was, quite possibly, not a 100-year flood as originally described, but rather a 40- or 50-year event.
“Why put people and businesses in harm’s way along the Carson River? It seems premature to put this in there,” said Kaffer, citing concern for public safety.
Kaffer said he was also concerned, as a parent, about the amount of traffic the development would cause in the area. He said people could use Ironwood Drive and other residential streets as a short cut to the development.
Coupled with the students from the high school who already drive quickly in the area, Kaffer said, caused him further concern for public safety.
“There could be 4,000 health club members,” said Kaffer, referring to plans to possibly build a health club, hotel, campground, movie theater, and day care center in the development. “There could be many accidents and many deaths.”
“If by some chance you pass this amendment,” Kaffer said to the commission. “Then we request the only access to the development be on State Route 88, with none on Mahogany Drive.”
Another resident of the area, Elena Kesteloot said, “We’re just residents, not lawyers. This is a mistake, pure and simple.”
“There isn’t a home in the area under $200,000,” said Kesteloot. “I can’t see maintaining that if this is passed with the increased traffic. I would not have bought and built had I known a movie theater would have been built there.”
Engineer Rob Anderson, who represents the developers in this action, said, “We would like to see the master plan implemented.”
Anderson said he had appeared before the Minden Town Board three times, and received approval for the project each time.
In addressing Kaffer’s concerns of flooding in the area, Anderson said the development is, for the most part, out of the flood plain.
“This is not a levee condition like the Ranchos,” said Anderson. “Those properties are physically above the flood plain.”
Anderson said the expected 100-year flood plain boundaries mimicked the recent event. Anderson then asked the commission to vote consistently with the master plan.
“You’ve spent a lot of time and money on the plan. Follow through. Apply the zone,” said Anderson.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins then addressed the commission.
“The board is somewhat bound by the master plan,” said Perkins. “That doesn’t mean you can’t change it. It just means there’s consequences if you do. We don’t think you should make decisions based on liability.”
However Perkins said the DA’s office thought the county had a legal obligation to rezone consistent with the master plan.
Commissioner Don Miner then moved for approval.
“I’m really concerned about access,” said Commissioner Bernie Curtis. “Access to 88 only would be best.”
“I can easily envision a scenario where the county builds on a site then spends $5 million to protect it,” said Commission chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen who was the lone vote against the zoning change.