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Park Cattle rejected by county

by Sheila Gardner

Douglas County commissioners voted 4-1 late Thursday night against a master plan amendment request from the Park Cattle Co. that would have created 4,500 residences in Carson Valley over the next 40 years.

Chairman Kelly Kite was the only commissioner in favor of the project which has been before the county three times.More than two dozen people offered comment on the land use request, with about 30 people remaining at the meeting until commissioners voted at 11:25 p.m.

At the height of the debate, the commission chamber was standing-room-only with people lined up in the hallway.

Park Cattle Co. Chief Executive Officer Brad Nelson said after the meeting he didn’t know if the company would resubmit the proposal.

“We’ll discuss it and decide what to do,” Nelson said.

The Park Ranch plan has been before the public for a year called for changing approximately 1,218 acres in central Carson Valley from agricultural to receiving area. Developers said only 770 acres would be developed and offered extensive public facilities, open space and retention of water rights.

“I want to support this project. I want to come out of Johnson Lane and not see brown,” Kite said.

He said his participation in the annual Eagles and Agriculture tour had reinforced how important it was to keep water with the land.

“The water belongs to the ranchers. Once it’s gone, it ain’t never coming back,” Kite said.

Reports have estimated the company could sell its water rights for $200 million.

County staff recommended denial of the project as inconsistent with the county’s master plan, a position the Park Cattle Co. refuted.

Commissioner Doug Johnson said there were a lot of positives with the proposal, but he had an obligation to represent the public.

“We have to make a decision that represents the public even if we don’t agree with it,” Johnson said.

He added that his decision also was influenced by the overwhelming majority of voters who supported the county’s growth management ordinance Tuesday.