Planners narrowly support Park deal
A swap of receiving area from Topaz Ranch Estates to Carson Valley may have been less out of step with feelings of planning commissioners than their first meeting indicated.
On Tuesday, sentiments expressed by planning commissioners followed closely the narrow vote county commissioners took on Aug. 6.
Planning Commission Chairman Kirk Walder supported the receiving area swap and development agreement approved 3-2 by county commissioners.
Bryan Oland said moving the receiving area from Topaz Ranch Estates closer to where services were available to serve it made sense.
“I still think the receiving area belongs closer to town,” he said. “They still have the ability to develop on larger lots down in Topaz.”
Planning Commissioner Mark Neddenriep said he felt the swap could have been handled better, though he was in favor of the parkway.
Planning Commissioner David Akola argued that the process commissioners used to approve the maps and development agreement was “illegal and improper,” calling the design of Muller Parkway “garbage.”
“The whole thing should be scrapped and started from scratch,” he said. “I don’t think construction will ever relieve the traffic on Highway 395.”
Planning Commissioner Maureen Casey said she felt it was inappropriate to bundle the development plan with the map update.
“Legally, it may toe the line, but it has a bad feel to it. It feels like something was slipped through.”
She asked that commissioners review their approval and remove the development plan from the master plan process.
Approval of the receiving area swap was a rocky start for the master plan update process, which will continue over the next six months.
The county plans to conduct an online public survey Sept. 2-30, according to Planning Manager Sam Booth.
He said a booth will be set up at the Minden Inn the week of Sept. 16-20 for residents to share their opinions.
Open houses have been scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Douglas County Community and Senior Center and again on Sept. 18 at the Kahle Community Center in Stateline.
Booth said his hope was to have a final draft of the master plan text to planning commissioners by Nov. 1 where they can vote on the plan text at the November meeting.
County commissioners would receive the plan text on Dec. 5 for approval.
That would mark nearly two years since the update of the 2011 master plan was halted in January 2018.
Planning officials said the update will reduce the plan’s bulk, which increased over the more than 20 years since it was approved in 1996.
On Aug. 6, county commissioners voted 3-2 to move receiving area off the Sleeping Elephant Ranch in Topaz Ranch Estates to Carson Valley. Receiving area designates those portions of the county where planners expect development. In order to build in receiving area, property owners must transfer development rights from parcels designated as sending areas, which are generally agricultural land the county wants to preserve. Because the Parks own a significant amount of agricultural land in the Valley, most of that density could come from their own property.
Commissioners also approved an agreement that permitted Park Holdings to have up to 2,500 units on the 1,044-acre property.
In June, planning commissioners reviewed the maps, but voted to approve them without the transfer of receiving area.
There is currently about 5,000 acres of receiving area across the county.
According to the county, the existing demand for receiving area cannot be reasonably accommodated within the current boundaries of the Topaz Ranch Estates vicinity because the distance and geography constraints of developing property in TRE make water and sewer connections cost prohibitive.
Encouraging dense development so far from the county seat would present financial challenges to the county, such as the cost of busing children to and from school located in Minden and Gardnerville.
Topaz Ranch Estates children are currently bused to Minden Elementary.
Moving the receiving area out of TRE won’t affect the hard zoning on the Ranch, which includes commercial, tourist commercial, multi-family and single family residential. Most of the property is zoned 2- and 5-acre residential.
Building those homes in Topaz Ranch Estates would require expanding Highway 395 to four lanes from 208 to Gardnerville.
It has been nearly a quarter of a century since Douglas County commissioners voted on an agreement to offer $24 million to purchase the land they altered the land use on Tuesday.
The 9,900 acre Slash Bar H was on the market after being sold once already in the wake of the Helms bankruptcy.
Commissioners voted July 6, 1995, to purchase the property that represented the last large remnants of the former Dangberg Ranch.
Two months later the deal fell through and the property was eventually purchased and divided between Bruce Park and Don Bently.
Since the Parks purchased the land along the northern edge of Minden and Gardnerville, there has been at least one major push to develop it.
In 2008, Park Cattle proposed about 5,000 units on the 1,372 acres of land, a request that evaporated in the face of significant public opposition.