Planning commission looks at ‘quality of life’ | RecordCourier.com

Planning commission looks at ‘quality of life’

Sheila Gardner

Planning commissioners will tackle “quality of life” issues in the Douglas County master plan Thursday as part of the document’s first annual review.

“Quality of life issues have become somewhat of a buzz word or a cliche,” said John Doughty, county planning-economics development manager, “but this is the whole vision behind doing the master plan.”

Doughty defined quality of life as “that basic discussion of what Douglas County wants to be, what it wants to retain. We’re looking for the means of getting there from here, dealing with the issues of growth, retention of open space, agriculture as a viable business in the community, all those things.”

“What I really see is that the planning commission says ‘yea or nay’ to looking at the list we’re pulling together.”

Doughty said two criteria must be defined in determining quality of life indicators: “Do we believe the indicator is viable, what the community wants? We also want to make sure it’s something you can measure.”

As a starting point, staff developed a list of 12 indicators for discussion to examine the county’s progress toward the character desired for the year 2015.

The list includes population growth, economic growth and diversification, county fiscal condition, ability to provide services at established adequate service levels, air quality, surface or groundwater quality or quantity, public accessibility to open space, natural resources protection, affordable housing, traffic levels, cultural resources and design standards.

“What I envision is that the planning commissioners identify their preliminary list Thursday and we hold another hearing to take in testimony so people can add things and discuss potential measurement to go forward to the Board of County Commissioners in May when they look at the annual report on the master plan,”Doughty said.

The master plan, adopted in April 1996, is up for its first review Thursday by the planning commission.

As part of that process, the Community Development Department has prepared an analysis of residential building permits, land division activity and commercial development activity since the plan was implemented.

A total of 1,606 building permits were issued countywide from April 1996 through February 1997. Single family permits accounted for 415, mobile homes 34. One multi-family permit for a two-unit duplex was issued.

“Residential development has remained relatively steady over the last two years and in the decade of the 1990s was distributed widely around the county,” according to the staff report.

In land division, 37 tentative parcels have been approved, while 202 new legal parcels of record were created, including residential and non-residential parcels.

That compares to 231 tentative parcels and 720 legal parcels the year before.

Since adoption of the final map, 63 design review applications have been submitted to the county.

“These applications are only required for non-residential development and are indicative of the steady growth and redevelopment expected within the county over the next year,” the report says.

No development proposals have been submitted for land within the designated receiving areas.

After the master plan review, commissioners will hear a master plan amendment and zone change request for land at the intersection of Dresslerville Road and State Route 756 in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

Applicants Thomas Abdoo and Tenley and Jade Miller are requesting a master plan amendment to change the land use designation from agricultural and receiving area to multi-family and commercial. The zone change seeks a change from farm, forestry, open reserve to neighborhood commercial, office commercial and multi-family residential with a planned development overlay zone.

The site is the vacant Treehouse nursery building and vacant land.

Previous plans for the 12.8-acre site have included a recreational vehicle park.

“This is an alternative to the RV park,” said attorney Scott Brooke, who represents applicant Abdoo. “The RV park was the only potential use under the master plan. The property owners felt this was an inappropriate use for the location and the neighbors also recognized that the RV park was not what they would like to see. They suggested that the owners seek the master plan amendment again to do what is more reasonable at that major intersection.”

Brooke said if the requests are denied Thursday, the property owners will proceed with the RV park application.

“There isn’t a current market for transfer development rights (TDRs) that the owners have been able to uncover,” Brooke said. “There aren’t any available. Mr. Abdoo has been unable to find anyone who is willing to sell at a price that is economic feasible.”

Brooke said the request provides the planning commission with an opportunity to customize the master plan.

“The master plan can be amended and fine-tuned, particularly with a new program (TDRs) that is untried here,” he said.

Plans for the site call for a commercial area and 34-unit patio home project spread over seven acres.

“This is less than five units per acre even though the multi-family residential is 12 units per acre,” Brooke said. “This project is designed to accommodate all concerns of the neighbors.”

Robert E. Havranek, president of the Pleasantview Homeowners Association, requested in a letter to Brooke that the applicants record covenants, codes and restrictions and a put up a long-term security bond to guarantee that the proposed project go forward.

“The master plan amendment and new zoning proposed and requested could possibly permit a whole range of objectionable housing and commercial development if the proposed CC&Rs were removed from the property … We could possibly have low cost-low income high density apartment housing on the seven acres, a national franchise fast food operation, gas station or convenience store in the Treehouse and who knows what on the northwest parcel,” Havranek wrote.

Staff is recommending that the planning commission deny the master plan amendment to redesignate the 7.6 acres from receiving area to multi-family residential. Denial is also recommended for the zone map amendment request to reclassify 7.6 acres from farm, forestry and open reserve to multi-family residential with a planned development overlay zone.

The project then goes to the county commission for final consideration.

The planning commission meets at 1 p.m. in the courtroom of the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.