Depleted planners recommend denial of Blue Sky development | RecordCourier.com

Depleted planners recommend denial of Blue Sky development

by Joey Crandall, Staff Writer

The Douglas County Planning Commission recommended denial of a planned 80-acre development in the Fish Springs Planning Area Tuesday.

A narrow 2-1 vote for denial came from a depleted planning board as commissioners Kevin Lane and Mark Neuffer were absent from the meeting and two other seats were vacated in October after two commissioners left the area.

Chairperson Valida McMichael opened the meeting explaining that since two seats have been vacated, the board represents a five-seat commission. Thus, the three present commissioners qualified as a quorum.

McMichael’s and Neuffer’s terms expire at the end of the month, which will leave four open seats for the county commission to appoint (See related story).

The board’s decision was met with applause from about 20 Fish Springs area residents who attended the meeting in opposition to the planned Blue Sky development.

The proposal included a planned development overlay, that would create smaller parcels while taking into consideration several areas of environmental constraints and life safety issues. Those included an earthquake fault running through the property and portions of the property that dip into the floodplain.

In all, such areas amounted to more than 30 percent of the project site, leaving the smallest of the 16 proposed parcels at 3.0 net acres in size, which was one of the main concerns raised by residents during public comment.

“Keep the lots to a five-acre minimum,” said Linda Monohan, a 22-year resident of Fish Springs. “It’s very rural (out there). If this plan passes it will set a precedent.

“Back in the mid-90s, residents packed our fire stations for meetings to ensure that there would be a five-acre minimum for our area in the master plan.”

The Douglas County Master Plan designates Fish Springs as a rural area with a key issue identified as protecting the rural character of the community, which includes residents’ opposition to high-density development.

“Keep it at the five acres that we have and that we have asked for for many years,” said 24-year-resident Don Hale. “It hasn’t changed. This is a representation of many, many people in Fish Springs.”

Keith Ruben, an engineer for R.O. Anderson Engineering — the firm designing the project — pointed out that 48 percent of the parcels in the Fish Springs area are currently less than five acres in size. Those parcels, however, were grandfathered in with the master plan.

Planning Commissioner Larry Walsh moved to recommend approval of the project.

“I can empathize with the people of Fish Springs, but we do have that P.D. (planned development) ordinance in place that allows for this type of project, I’m going to have to go with it.”

The motion died for lack of a second.

Valida McMichael moved to recommend denial of the project, which was seconded by Nancy McDermid. The two ayes carried the motion while Walsh voted against it.

“The whole purpose that the legislature gave us the P.D.s was to enhance the community,” McMichael said. “Moving your density from one parcel to another doesn’t enhance the community.

“All you’ve done is crunch everyone together. This has got to have an impact … we go through drought cycles.”

The planning commission’s action was an advisory decision. The project will appear before the Douglas County Commission in January.

In other business Tuesday, the planning commission:

– Approved a major variance for a reduction in the required front yard setback from 20 feet to zero feet, in the required off-street parking spaces from 21 to zero and the required floor area ratio from 50 percent to 70 percent in order to support an addition to the R.O. Anderson Engineering building on Esmeralda Avenue.

The variance would support the construction of the three-story, 5,202-square-foot addition to the building, which will fall in line with the Town of Minden’s Plan for Prosperity.

A similar variance passed in the summer for the Barone & Reed Food Co., which will be located adjacent to the addition.

Artist’s renderings of the addition showed that the front of the building fits in with the classical design of many of the buildings on Esmeralda and does not exceed the height of the CVIC Hall or the Minden Inn.

“Go forth and make it happen,” McMichael said. “It’s beautiful.”

– Approved a special use permit for Line Drive University at 2577 Nowlin Road, Unit 1, in Minden.

– Approved a subdivision of 366 acres into nine parcels, the smallest being 40 net acres in Topaz.

The request was for land in the FR-19 (Forest and Range-19-acre minimum) zoning district.

– Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.