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Planning commission approves master plan change

by Christy Chalmers

Lampe Park could be expanded and a new strip mall could appear along Highway 395 south of Waterloo Lane if a recommendation made Tuesday by the Douglas County Planning Commission stands.

The panel voted 5-2 to change the county master plan for a 30.5-acre parcel between Highway 395 and Waterloo Lane from its agricultural use to one allowing a combination of commercial and public facilities.

A subsequent action to allow those uses on the land passed 4-3.

The commercial designation would apply to 7.68 acres of the land, with the rest to be used for public facilities, which could include parks or fire stations.

Previous efforts to change the property’s master plan and land use designations failed based on concerns about flooding and whether additional commercial space was needed in the town.

Though the property hasn’t been offered to the county, Roger Falcke, who sought the change, said Lampe Park could be expanded, and the majority of planning commission supporters said they couldn’t pass up the deal.

“What we’re doing by this vote is preserving the open space,” said board member Jay Lather. “This is a phenomenal advantage to Douglas County.”

“I’d rather have the question of what will happen (to the land) in county hands than what will happen in a developer’s hands,” said Rick Gardner. “I think we’d be making a big mistake not to approve this.”

Gardner and Lather were joined by Michael Hayes, Valida McMichael and Robert Gaw approving the master plan change, with Ame Hellman and Virginia Henningsen opposed.

Henningsen said she wants more information about the overall plan for the area, because she’s concerned raising the elevation of the 7.68 acres for the commercial space, which would lay along Highway 395, will add to flooding problems.

“The paving of that area is just going to make it worse. We need to look at it in its entirety,” she said.

The second part of the vote changed the zoning to match the new master plan designation. McMichael, who approved the master plan change, opposed the zoning change because she thinks a commercial designation limiting the use to office space would be more suitable. That made the vote 4-3, still enough for approval.

In other business, the planning commission approved a separate request for commercial uses at the old Tree House nursery – but not as many uses as the applicant wanted.

The defunct nursery at the corner of Centerville and Dresslerville roads had a master plan designation of agricultural, and the Bently Family Limited Partnership, which owns it, wanted to change the designation for the three-acre parcel to commercial.

Bently also wanted a zone change that would have allowed neighborhood commercial uses, which would have allowed a 24-hour gas station.

Though no gas station was proposed, Gardnerville Ranchos residents packed the meeting room to voice their concerns that a gas station could leak and contaminate a nearby well that serves the Ranchos. They were pleased when the Planning Commission unanimously voted to change the master plan use for the land to commercial, but limit the accompanying zone change to office commercial, which would preclude a gas station.

The Planning Commission’s recommendations will go to the County Commission, which has final authority to overrule or uphold them.