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North County apartments scuttled

Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Apartments won’t be among the land uses slated for 624 acres between Indian Hills and the Carson City line.

The Douglas County commission unanimously OK’d a plan Thursday that includes space for offices, businesses, houses and public facilities on the land. Hours later, a separate plan for managing open space also got unanimous approval, though without the fanfare that accompanied the north county plan.

The inclusion of 64 acres of apartment zoning in the north county plan was the biggest complaint of residents. They submitted petitions seeking removal of the zoning.

“It’s politically incorrect, but the correct term for high-density housing is ‘slums,'” said Gardnerville resident Richard Brengman.

The commissioners agreed to delete the apartments with little debate.

“If the community really doesn’t want it, I’m not one to ride roughshod over their wishes,” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.

The commission also affirmed a 200-foot buffer zone between existing houses on Haystack Drive and development of a bluff to the north and designated a single-family residential zone along Lyla Lane so existing homes won’t be bumped out by incoming commercial uses.

The 624 acres, which are now empty, include 440 that are owned by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM has indicated the land will be swapped or sold, and county planners want a growth plan in place before development starts.

Keeping the land empty, which some residents would prefer, wasn’t considered an option.

“I think the question is what kind of uses we’re going to plan for this. Otherwise, they’re going to be planned for us,” said Etchegoyhen. “Either we can get steamrolled or we can steer a little.”

Work started on the north county plan in May and included public workshops, as well as assistance from an outside firm.

At the same time, the open space management plan was being developed. The open space plan outlines goals and criteria for acquiring and maintaining undeveloped land.

Douglas residents will vote in November on raising the county’s sales tax a quarter-cent. If approved, the proceeds would be used to acquire land or pay owners of desired property not to develop. The plan explains how the process could work.