Neighbors like development plan for Clear Creek land | RecordCourier.com
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Neighbors like development plan for Clear Creek land

by Jeff Munson

A group of Clear Creek Road residents in north Douglas County say they welcome plans to build a golf course and housing development in their neighborhood and say efforts to stop or scale back the gated community may be illegal.

“This is a property rights issue between a property owner and a developer,” said Clear Creek resident Jim Alexander on Thursday over the proposed development in Clear Creek Canyon on property known as the Schneider Ranch.

“We feel this interference is not only uncalled for, but it is impinging on the rights of private property owners. I think a court would agree too,” Alexander said hours before Douglas County commissioners took public comment on the proposed development.

Developer Jeff Dingman asked that a master plan amendment allowing 300 homes be taken off Thursday’s agenda and instead be heard March 8. Commissioner Kelly Kite was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

The Clear Creek Road property owners say the development is sound and that Dingman has promised to provide up to $1 million to repair the unmaintained Old Clear Creek Road in exchange for a master plan amendment that would increase the number of homes that could be built on the property.

Backers of the Dingman project also say traffic through the canyon would be dramatically reduced because Dingman has promised to build an extension road that would give primary access to and from the project to Highway 50 so long as the county grants him the amendment to build 300 homes.

“This project has no impact on Douglas County whatsoever, and would bring large tax revenue over long periods of time, and would generate thousands of dollars for public schools,” Alexander said.

Clear Creek Road resident Dixie Busch said Dingman has addressed concerns and said the project should not be stopped because it has widespread benefit.

“Here we have a chance to clean up a very bad situation,” Busch said. “We have the chance to clean up a bad road. It is certainly better than the alternative plan.”

Dingman has said he could not afford to make the road repairs if he is not granted the amendment for 300 homes.

Backers of the project say the benefits outnumber any perceived setbacks. Alexander said the property should be developed, adding that it was the intention all along from the original Schneider family owners.

The property, which is jointly owned by John Serpa and another investor, had been considered for preservation by the U.S. Forest Service. Douglas County and the Forest Service split the cost of a land appraisal last year, and a verbal agreement was made to negotiate for the property in exchange for 28 acres of property near the proposed Wal-Mart site.

While Serpa has declined to comment, the Forest Service says it has yet to receive a letter from Serpa saying he is no longer interested.

Project backers said they believe the exchange is dead and Serpa has every right to sell the property and Dingman has every right to develop the property. They also say Dingman will preserve 2,000 acres of open space elsewhere in the county because he would be the first to test the transfer of development rights program.

Opponents argue the amendment would undermine the master plan.

“This is harassment,” said Carson City resident Scott Ford of organized efforts to block the amendment. “I think this whole thing is a pawn, a farce and that they just want something for nothing. They are using the master plan as a scapegoat to get what they want – no development.”

Ford owns a deed he plans to sell to Dingman for a road extension to Highway 50.

Meanwhile, several residents spoke out against the development at Thursday’s commission meeting.

Christopher Lund questioned who was driving the development and urged the board not to grant the amendment he said benefits a few at the expense of open space.

“This is a special place,” Lund said. “I believe you are getting to a point where some reins need to be brought to bear.”

Susan Southwick argued the county must uphold the master plan and not allow the amendment, which she said would permit “leapfrog development” that goes against what was intended in the master plan.

“This isn’t planning anymore. This would be development outside of the request,” Southwick said.

Judy Sturgis held up a copy of the county’s open space implementation plan, backed by all five county commissioners, which specifically referenced the county’s desire to protect the Schneider Ranch property.

“I would like to know what possibly could change your minds?” Sturgis said.

The meeting will continue and the master plan amendment will be addressed at the March 8 meeting beginning at 1 p.m.

What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting

When: March 8, 1 p.m.

Where: Courtroom of the Douglas County Administrative Building, 1616 Eighth Street, Minden