Master plan argued before state Supreme Court
A Carson Valley developer’s lawyer urged the state Supreme Court to overrule Douglas County’s rejection of a master plan change for a Gardnerville pasture.
Todd Russell, an attorney for Lampe Corners Ltd., the group that sought the change, and Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins traded arguments Monday before three Supreme Court justices.
The Lampe Corners group wants to change 30 acres of pasture land at the corner of Highway 395 and Waterloo Lane so commercial space and community facilities could be built. The county commission rejected the change on a 3-2 vote in 1999.
A 3-2 margin would normally be sufficient for approval, but under county code, master plan changes require a supermajority, which in the county commission’s case would be four of the five commissioners.
Russell said state law only requires a majority vote, and argued Douglas County leaders have overstepped their authority by requiring a supermajority.
“That’s an extreme standard,” he said. “What’s fair? To have a higher standard than the law allows? That’s not fair.
Perkins said the developers should have gone to Douglas District Court or to the county commission with their complaint, not the state Supreme Court. He also said state law doesn’t preclude Douglas County’s policy, proving the state legislature wanted the counties to have some latitude.
“I think local governments have the authority to experiment with different ways of doing things. I think that’s what this is,” Perkins said. “The real issue is (if) they have the authority to enact a rule like that.”
The Lampe Corners group wants an order granting the master plan amendment. If that happens, the group could then proceed with requests for zoning changes that would allow development of the land.
The property is currently slated for agricultural use, but proponents wanted a commercial designation for 7.68 acres and a change to community facilities for the rest.
After initially rejecting the change in September 1999, the county commission reconsidered but no votes changed. The two who voted against the change objected because the land is in a flood plain and they were concerned about the impact of the new land uses on downstream users.