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Open space draft before commission

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Douglas County’s open space management plan could be adopted by early September.

The latest draft of the plan will be discussed Thursday by the Douglas County commission. It incorporates comments and suggestions made during earlier meetings, and according to a memo by County Manager Dan Holler, provides more detailed alternatives for preservation of open space and agricultural lands.

The plan is intended as a blueprint for preserving undeveloped land in Douglas County. Versions of the plan so far have listed options that include buying conservation easements from landowners and using public and private money to prevent development.

Douglas County voters will be asked in November if they want to establish a public funding source for the open space preservation cause by raising the sales tax a quarter-cent to 7 percent.

Supporters say proceeds from the increase could raise $1 million a year for buying conservation easements. In theory, purchasing the easements compensates the landowner while ensuring the property won’t be developed.

If the sales tax increase is approved, a management plan must be in place.

Depending on the revisions that are made in coming weeks, the plan could be ready for adoption by the first or second week of September. Holler said at least two more meetings after Thursday – Aug. 24 and Sept. 7 – will be held, with more possible.

A mid-September adoption date would leave enough time for early voters to study the plan before weighing in on the ballot question, he said.

Two hours have been set aside to discuss the plan Thursday. The commission meets starting at 1 p.m., but the plan probably won’t be discussed until after 3 p.m. The board meets in the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.