Planners look at zone change |

Planners look at zone change

Sheila Gardner

Planning commissioners split over a zoning map amendment request last week that is consistent with the county’s new master plan, but caused some members concern because of the land’s proximity to the swollen Carson River.

“Is it right to have three homes where it’s dropping off in the river?” asked commissioner Virginia Henningsen. “Are we using our heads? Is this wise? When you put homes in poorly zoned areas, it’s not in the best interests of Douglas County.”

The zoning map amendment was requested by Westwood Village No. 5 owners Patrick Fagan and Greg Painter to reclassify the parcel from farm and forestry, open reserve to private recreation, office commercial and from acre estates to single family residential. The zoning request falls under the new classifications in the master plan.

The parcel is located in the Westwood development adjacent to the Carson Valley Swim Center and partially borders the Carson River.

The applicants came to the planning commission Jan. 30 for the zoning amendment request to expedite the process rather than wait several months for action by the board under the zoning map consistency hearings.

Engineer Rob Anderson, representing the applicants, said his clients had completed extensive erosion control work along the river bank which had been approved by several agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers, Minden Town Board, county and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Henningsen also questioned if the site is in the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood plain map.

Anderson said the site is not included in the most recent FEMA maps.

“Is there a way it will never flood?” asked Anderson. “I would never, ever tell you that. The reason there’s standing water at the site is that it’s poorly drained now.”

Westwood resident Dan Kaffer said he and his neighbors were concerned about the impact of increased traffic and potential for flooding. He presented petitions to planning commissioners signed by about 50 residents.

He cited statistics by the Nevada Department of Transportation that 11,000 vehicles travel through the intersection daily. Kaffer and his neighbors are concerned about motorists who take Mahogany to Ironwood to avoid congestion at the high school and the traffic light at the intersection of highways 395 and 88.

Kaffer said there is “a fender-bender a week” at the intersection and questioned the wisdom of more commercial activity at the corner. He also said he was concerned about the flood history of the Valley.

Anderson said the applicants have paid into a fund for a traffic signal at the intersection of County Road and Highway 88.

“To underestimate the power of this river is ludicrous,” Kaffer said. “We have no levee repair district to keep up with this.”

Kaffer said he stacked 1,200 sandbags in Westwood during the New Year’s flood.

“I got very wet and I got very scared. This concern comes from my heart. It’s about my family and families in my neighborhood.”

Elena Kesteloot, who lives in Westwood near the proposed site, said she is concerned that there will be no traffic light at the intersection “until my babies are in college.”

“It will invite people to come in and speed through our streets. This is my biggest concern. It’s not consistent with the intent of the master plan. It’s not in the best use to put commercial in our neighborhood.”

Richard Brown, a Westwood resident and sheriff’s deputy, said he believes the state’s accident estimates are low.

“We’re going to have some hellacious accidents out there,” he said. “I know there’s at least one fender-bender a week. I see them happen, I watch them out my back window.”

Brown said he also worked during the recent flooding of the Carson River.

“I was the first officer on the scene when Mr. [Fredrick] Pinard died. The power of the Carson River during the flood was enough to pick up a 36,500-pound piece of equipment and carry it like a toy down the river. We’re dealing with something we can’t control.”

Pinard disappeared Jan. 2 when the equipment he was operating was swept into the Carson River at the Riverview Mobile Home Park south of Gardnerville.

While acknowledging the concerns, planning commissioner Susan Southwick said the board had to “refocus on what we’re doing.”

“This amendment is totally consistent with the master plan. Whether houses or a hotel goes in out there is not before us.”

Henningsen, Bob Gaw and Peter Bandurraga voted against the amendment while Southwick, Mike Jarrett, and Michael Hayes voted in favor. Commissioner Brian Krolicki abstained because his family has an interest in the property.

The amendment now goes to county commissioners for consideration at their Feb. 20 meeting.