Minden board debates standards
The Minden Town Board can ask developers to include project requirements which enhance the character of the community, but such aesthetics are arbitrary and difficult to enforce.
That was the issue debated last week by town board members and Douglas County representatives, who ultimately have the final say in what a project looks like.
“I’ve heard people say the town has no authority. I don’t believe that,” said Robert Morris, chiefDouglas County district attorney. “You can always raise a concern, but it’s better fashioned as a concern than a condition.”
The topic came up in January when the town approved plans for expansion of the Douglas County Library in Minden. The approval included a list of conditions which Morris advised Library Director Linda Deacy the town had no authority to require.
Morris and Community Development Director Bob Nunes addressed the board last Wednesday.
Nunes suggested that the town hold an appearance or architectural review for projects.
“It gets very subjective,” he said. “It’s not something you can always write down in black and white. When you get into that, that’s when developers play you against the county. You can’t pass something that says here is the same thing for everyone.”
n Maintain standards. Town board member Robert Hadfield sought assurance that the town would be able to maintain its stamdards.
“Some of us feel we, perhaps, might care a little bit more because we live in our neighborhoods. Maybe we care a little bit more than somebody sitting at a desk stamping stuff,” Hadfield said.
For example, he said, the town belives the county’s minimum parking standards are inadequate, he said, so the board requires a developer to include more spaces.
“Time to time, we ask for higher standards than the county is able to do politically,” he said. “Is there any wiggle room so we can have that flexibility?
“I want somebody to guarantee to me the town will stay special, that we won’t become Johnson Lane South,” Hadfield said to a smattering of applause from the audience.
Town board member Bruce Jacobsen pointed out that the town can ask, but the developer doesn’t have to oblige.
“We can ask for something more, but the developers know that the town can’t do anything about it. They don’t listen when we have no authority.”
“If what you’re requesting is more than the county requires, but you have a good reason, the county will ask for it,” Morris said.
He told board members they could look at architecture and appearance.
“In my mind, that’s what this board wants to do,” Morris said. “It’s not the same as design review. You can’t take aesthetic values and graft them on design review.”