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Langtree Center zoning may change

Andy Bourelle

The zoning of the Langtree Square Shopping Center in the Gardnerville Ranchos may be changed, opening up the possibility for future types of businesses allowed there which aren’t under current zoning.

The Douglas County Planning Commission approved the application for changing the zoning from neighborhood commercial to general commercial at its monthly meeting Tuesday. The application will now go before county commissioners for two readings.

The zoning of the location currently allows some types of commercial businesses such as the laundromat, video store and restaurant and bar which are there. Under the proposed zoning, garden stores, pawn shops, appliance stores and second-hand stores could be put there.

The zone change has been proposed by the owner of the Red Rooster bar, which is located on the parcel of land. Bars, as a primary use, or stand-alone bars, are not permitted in neighborhood commercial zoning. Technically, the Red Rooster is not a stand-alone bar and operates legally because a door connects it with the restaurant next door. It is considered an accessory to the adjoining restaurant, although the businesses are separate entities with separate owners.

The Red Rooster has operated in this capacity since 1992. In July, the restaurant which connected to the bar vacated the space, and the bar use became illegal. Action was taken against the bar, but another restaurant moved into the location before the code was enforced.

The Red Rooster is operated legally now, but the owner has proposed the change because if the current restaurant, La Familia, leaves the location, then the bar cannot operate legally under the neighborhood commercial zoning.

“The bar owner is always going to be in a difficult situation (under current zoning),” said Douglas County Planning and Economic Development Manager John Doughty at the meeting.

The new zoning would not change the existence or operation of the Red Rooster, Doughty said. It would give the owner the permission to stay in business if the adjoining restaurant vacated the location.

Planning Commissioner Virginia Henningsen questioned Doughty whether the board could stop an incoming business that was “worse,” such as a pawn shop, when the general commercial zoning was in effect.

Once the zoning was in place, Doughty said, those businesses allowed under general commercial couldn’t be stopped by the commission from going into the location.

“The answer is ‘zone appropriately,'” Doughty said. “If you don’t want these kinds of places, decide not to zone it that way.”

The Douglas County planning staff recommended the board pass the application on to the county commissioners because it was consistent with the Douglas County master plan. Since the Langtree Square was constructed in 1990, extensive commercial development has taken place in the immediate area. The planning staff recommended the approval, saying it was in the best interest of the community.

No general commercial zoning exists in the Ranchos now, which Doughty said is not a problem. When rezoning, Doughty said, the county decided to give the residents the “lowest common denominator” in zoning, and they would have to come forward if they wanted zoning which allowed a larger variety of businesses. He said if the county had anticipated any problems with this zoning, the county would have made the location general commercial anyway.

“There’s a question of whether or not that (the zone change) is really an issue,” he said. “Had we brought this forward before, had we been thinking about this when we were doing the rezoning, we would have made it general commercial.”

Ranchos General Improvement District manager Bob Spellberg went before the planning commission and said he was neutral on whether or not stand-alone bars should be allowed in the Ranchos. But, he said, at the time the zoning was done, the Ranchos board was against stand-alone bars.

After passing the application, the board said, because of the two readings, the current Ranchos board would have time to tell the Board of County Commissioners if it had a problem with the proposed zoning change.