Planners deny Gardnerville project
August 12, 2015
The first large project to be proposed since the Great Recession will go to county commissioners with a recommendation for denial.
Planning commissioners voted 5-1 on Tuesday to deny a 250-unit development on the northern portion of the Corley Ranch.
Speakers on the project were more divided than planning commissioners.
Only Kevin Servatius, who was serving as chairman of the board, voted in favor of the project.
Proponents found themselves paddling upstream with Ruhenstroth residents, who expressed the fear that the project would affect wells in the southeastern Carson Valley neighborhood.
Gardnerville Water Co. Manager Mark Gonzales explained that the company gets its water from a different aquifer than Ruhenstroth residents. Gardnerville, like every other Carson Valley water purveyor, pumps water from underground. The aquifer across the Valley is recharged by the Carson River and its tributaries.
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Gonzales conceded that the town's wells have gone down 5 feet in four years due to the drought. Wells in Ruhenstroth have been drawn down much further, with some residents forced to redrill.
The issue for planning commissioners was that the project is outside the urban boundary in the master plan. The Corley's, through representative Mark Neuffer, are seeking to add their land to the receiving area, where development rights could be transferred from other property.
Paula Corley said the change would help preserve other agricultural land in the Valley.
In Douglas County, thousands of acres of agricultural land has been preserved by transferring development rights off the property and onto sites reserved to receive them.
Planning commissioner Jim Madsen set the tone for the majority.
"I think this sets a dangerous precedent," he said. "It doesn't comply with the Ruhenstroth development plan. Personally, I can't go along with this. Also I believe that numbers say we don't need it."
Madsen said he sought the number of total lots in receiving areas currently approved and hadn't received an answer.
At the meeting Community Development Director Mimi Moss estimated about 3,000 lots, but said there were several variables.
She said Carson Valley has experienced a growth rate far less than the 2.5 percent anticipated in the growth management ordinance. Moss estimated that 150 building permits for single family dwellings were granted in fiscal year 2014-15, up 15 from the previous year.
Estimates are that the project will build out in 8-15 years.