Finishing touch nears for open space plan |

Finishing touch nears for open space plan

Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Douglas County’s open space management plan is nearly finished and could be adopted Sept. 7.

What could be the final review of the plan is scheduled Thursday afternoon in Stateline, where the county commission is meeting. The plan outlines strategies for preserving Douglas County’s undeveloped land and was developed in conjunction with a November ballot question on raising the county’s sales tax rate a quarter-cent to pay for land preservation.

County Manager Dan Holler said the latest version of the plan incorporates changes suggested by the county planning commission earlier in August.

“I think we came out with a decent product,” he said. “I don’t see any major changes or shifts to it. If we need to clarify or better define something, we will do that.”

The plan has been in development since April. State law requires that an open space management plan be in place if the quarter-cent sales tax is enacted. The plan will explain how the sales tax would be used and outline policies for preserving open land.

The quarter-cent increase would bring Douglas County’s sales tax rate to 7 percent. Proponents have estimated it would generate $1 million a year that could be used for open space preservation. One of the more commonly discussed strategies is to buy conservation easements, a process that pays land owners not to develop their land. In theory, the land would remain open forever.

Holler said earlier that the plan could be adopted Thursday if county leaders were ready, but he said the Sept. 7 date appears more likely. A September adoption date will leave time to distribute the plan before early voting begins for the November general election, so voters should have enough time to review it before they consider the ballot question.

The county commission’s meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Stateline administration building, 175 Highway 50.