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Developer seeks land use change for casino-hotel

by Sharon Carter

With the Gardnerville Town Board behind her and letters of support from about a dozen area residents, Thursday real estate broker Patty Clark will ask the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to change the zoning on 30.55 acres adjacent to the new Lampe Corners project (the AM-PM Market and Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant) to general commercial.

The land, between Waterloo Lane and Highway 395, is owned by the Herbig family and is currently zoned and used as pasture. To the immediate north is commercial property and across Highway 395 to the east is more commercial. To the west is Lampe Park and the county’s park buildings. Immediately to the south is pasture on the west side of Highway 395 and across the highway is more commercial.

The issue is Number 63 on a 65-item commission agenda.

The project. Clark and her backer, Pacific Western Capital Corp., a Florida-based investment company, plan to build a 100-room hotel/casino, a 70-space RV park, a 36-lane bowling alley and an office building on the property.

“There’s a lot of misinformation that should be corrected before the public hearing on Oct. 1,” Clark said Wednesday. “In particular, people should have a concept of the scale of the project. It’s big.”

Clark said she had received one letter opposed to the project, from a Minden resident who felt the casino would be too close to the park.

“The casino seems to be the major issue,” she said. “And that’s only a minor part of the overall project, an important part, but still fairly minor.”

Clark said the casino is planned for the eastern corner of the property, more than a quarter of a mile from Lampe Park. The plans call for access to it from Highway 395 on the east and from the county-planned Waterloo Lane bypass on the south.

She said the park would be buffered by the more than 13 acres of RV park, the Cottonwood Slough and landscaping features.

Investors. Clark said Pacific Western Capital has never done a project that included a casino.

“There will also be offices, a restaurant, the hotel and a bowling alley that people won’t have to go through a casino to reach,” she said. “Having a casino is the way we do business in Nevada, it’s what we do here.”

Pacific Western Capital, according to the Florida Secretary of State’s office in Tallahassee, Fla., is a for-profit corporation in good standing with the state. It has been licensed there since 1994. The company’s officers reside in Williamstown, Mass., Isles of Palms, S.C., Brattleboro, Vt., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Pacific Western will have its management team operate the bowling alley and RV park – which is what they usually do – and they intend to lease out the casino operation. The restaurant and hotel operations will be franchises,” Clark said.

Flood concerns. Clark said the project addresses flood concerns which members of the Douglas County Planning Commission cited as the major reason they recommending denying all but a small portion of the zoning request Sept. 8.

Engineer Chuck Armstrong, of Thiel Engineering in Carson City, said the project is required by Douglas County code to prove it will not increase flood risks to others.

“That’s why of the 30 acres, there’ll be improvements on only about 10 acres,” Armstrong said Wednesday. “The project is off the main river, it’s higher than Lampe Corners, its not in what’s called a ‘floodway’ and it conforms to the floodplain management plan.

“It is influenced by the Cottonwood Slough, but both county code and the ditch committee require that the carrying capacity (of the slough) be maintained. Technically, we can’t see why it would be denied, there’s nothing remarkable about the site.”

“Old Tahoe” style. Clark said she had hired land planner George Szabo, who designed the Genoa Lakes development, to design this project in “a Bob Timberlake-Old Tahoe” style.

“It requires a lot of natural materials, wood and stone, in the design and landscaping – we don’t want something that’s all plastic,” Clark said.

Clark said she had been contacted by proponents of a proposed skateboard park, an in-line hockey group and the High Sierra Flycasters.

“They said they would like a skate park and hockey rink and a flycasting pond – things we might be able to accommodate in the three-acre corner next to the parks and rec buildings,” she said.

Clark said that while county planning staff has said the county has no funding for such amenities, another official has assured her there are private funds available.

Urban growth. She said another argument, that the project is premature and is not a logical extension of the Gardnerville urban area, is not credible.

“If not now, when? The argument will be the same five years from now,” she said. “Except for the park, there’s commercial to the north, east and south. According to the master plan, which shows the Waterloo bypass as the southern limit of the urban area, this use fits. It’s within the urban development area.

“Since that portion of the bypass is drawn on Herbig property in the master plan, this seems like it should be a good opportunity for the county to get the developer of that property to pay for the portion of the road that will affect it.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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