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East Valley residents protest land change

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

The prospect of another 250 homes – some with lots as small as 6,000 square feet – has East Valley residents alarmed.

The addition is being proposed by Stephen Mothersell, president of SCM Homes, which previously won approval for a 182-home subdivision called Grandview Estates. The Grandview development is to consist of parcels ranging from two to three acres that will be clustered on 862 acres along East Valley Road, north of Buckeye Road.

Mothersell is asking for a master plan amendment that will change 519 acres from a rural residential zone to a receiving area. If the change is made, Mothersell wants to add another 250 home sites.

Several East Valley residents told the Douglas County planning commission Tuesday that the extra homes will bring traffic and other undesirable impacts, and they objected to the smaller lot sizes, which could range from 6,000 square feet to two acres.

“(We) moved out there to get our own little piece of heaven, and that is getting more and more crowded,” said Eldon Way resident Dick Spence.

Mothersell said the company is only responding to a requirement that water and sewer lines be extended to serve Grandview Estates. The 250 additional units are needed to make the project economically feasible, he said.

“This is simply a result of the mandate that’s been put upon us by the board,” he said.

The discussion came shortly after the planning commission recommended approval of a separate master plan change that could mean 1,000 houses north of the Grandview area. The affected property is the Nevada Carson Ranch, located south of Johnson Lane between Minden-Tahoe Airport and East Valley Road.

The recommended change would move a receiving area on the ranch from the west to the east side, farther from the airport but closer to a future version of East Valley Road.

The planning commission didn’t take any action on the Grandview master plan change, but members conceded they’ll have to act soon, because the situation will become more common.

The county master plan includes a transfer of development rights program, in which development rights would be taken from undesirable building locations like flood plains and exercised in receiving areas, which have been identified as ideal for development.

Planning Commissioner Rick Gardner said the Grandview proposal could be a test of the policy.

“If you start denying projects like this, you’re basically telling staff that the TDR program doesn’t work,” he said. “You aren’t going to be able to use those TDRs at all if you aren’t a little flexible.”

Planning Commissioner Valida McMichael said the county should develop specific ordinances for transferring development rights and establishing conservation easements on the land from which the rights are taken.

She also told the two dozen East Valley residents in attendance that growth, and sewer and water systems, are probably inevitable.

The Grandview Estates request will be considered again in September by the planning commission.