New rule would raise bar for residential developments | RecordCourier.com

New rule would raise bar for residential developments

by Scott Murphy, Staff Writer

Douglas County commissioners adopted a plan Aug. 1 that would change the county’s policy of transferring development rights and make residential developers protect undeveloped land the way businesses must.

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said the change fixes a “hole” in county policy.

Because of current county code language, agricultural land isn’t protected when residential developments are done, just commercial property.

County planner Mimi Moss said now is probably a good time to change the county master plan and protect more rural land.

The new policy would require developers to set aside 10 acres as protected land for every acre they develop.

Under the policy, which was tentatively approved Thursday, Moss said the county can now protect other areas from development.

The county’s transfer of development rights program encourages developers to build businesses on property targeted in the master plan for growth and leave rural areas open.

The county wants to encourage growth away from agriculture land, such as north toward the Douglas-Carson City county line.

After the initial reading Thursday, the pending ordinance will be applied for future projects, said Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle. A second hearing for the plan’s possible formal adoption is scheduled for Aug. 15.

County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen joked he’d like to make the policy retroactive 30 years.

“If this ordinance is in place, we can guard the henhouse a lot better than we could yesterday,” Etchegoyhen said.

“If Washoe County had this (plan) 30 years ago, they’d have 50,000 acres of green land,” Etchegoyhen said. “I think it lays the right concept down.”

Etchegoyhen said Douglas County’s new TDR rules are the “most provocative, protective measure for agricultural land protection in the U.S.”

Commissioner Kelly Kite voted against the plan.

n Staff Writer Scott Murphy can be reached via e-mail at murph@swiftnews.com