Gardnerville apartments off hook for development rights
A lesson in economics was sufficient for Douglas County commissioners to approve an 81-unit apartment complex located in Gardnerville.
On Thursday, commissioners agreed 5-0 to alter the master plan on a five-acre parcel located south of Stodick Parkway at the end of Crestmore Drive so the owners wouldn’t have to buy development rights for each parcel.
Developer Allan Sapp said that the county’s program for transferring development rights from agricultural property was a worthy one, but did not work for multi-family housing.
Part of the confusion is that the property didn’t require development rights in the 2011 master plan, because it was still affordable housing, something Sapp said he didn’t have any interest in.
He said it wasn’t until earlier this year that he found out he was going to have to purchase 76 development rights, which would price the apartments out of economic feasibility.
“What have I learned as a Douglas County resident?” he asked the board. “I can’t trust what I received in writing from the county. I can’t trust what I received in verbal recommendations from the county. I can’t trust what I see on the county web site, and I can’t trust what I read in the master plan. If we had known what it was going to take to get this entitled, we never would have touched it.”
Public comment focused on the need for multi-family housing in Douglas County.
Northsails Human Resources Director Dave Becker said 55 percent of his employees live outside of the county.
“They are earning their income here and taking their money somewhere else,” he said. “We have a big need for housing that these employees can get into. I’ve never seen it so difficult to get employees.”
VIP Rubber Plant Manager George Phillips said that when the plant opened, three quarters of the new workers ended up living in Dayton.
“None of my employees qualify for affordable housing,” he said. “I know that in order for VIP to grow that housing will be a big issue.”
Gardnerville Town Manager Tom Dallaire said the town board discussed transferred development rights when it recommended the project.
“This is the most infill project we’re going to have in Gardnerville,” he said. “This is the best it’s going to get for this lot after three failed attempts to develop it.”
Implemented in the 1996 master plan, the county’s transfer of development rights program is designed to allow agricultural property owners to sell their right to build to developers who have receiving area.
Sapp pointed out that program doesn’t differentiate between types of development, so the price for a development right is the same for an apartment as it is for a $1 million home.
While approved by Gardnerville, the project failed to get the super majority required for a master plan change at the planning commission.
The master plan amendment is an ordinance and will require a second reading to take effect.