Planning commission will open growth cap debate |

Planning commission will open growth cap debate

by Susie Vasquez

After years of political and legal wrangling, residents will be airing their views concerning a growth cap before the Douglas County Planning Commission in January.

“I want comments from the public,” said Planning Commissioner Bob Conner. “I also want to have joint meetings with the board of commissioners, to get some direction from them.”

Commissioner Bob McKinney said it would probably be five or six months before a vote on the cap and he wouldn’t cast his vote until he has seen the pending water and transportation studies.

Growth limits will be balanced against other issues, including the pending reports from a U.S. Geological Survey concerning water availability and transportation studies.

“We need to get started. This won’t be decided in two or three meetings,” McKinney said. “I want everyone’s input.”

District Attorney Scott Doyle suggested a 2-percent cap on building permits in February, linked to a base housing inventory.

Since that time, residents have been discussing the issues with Douglas County staff.

Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins said there is a loose consensus through these discussions and that is a positive development.

The planning commission vote was 5-2 in favor of having the growth cap debate, with commissioners Rick Ross and Jim Madsen casting the two opposing votes.

“I feel we should wait on the upcoming studies,” Ross said.

Madsen agreed, as did some residents at the meeting.

“The details are murky,” said developer Greg Lynn. “I don’t want our eight-month effort to be overturned and I’d rather not plow the ground twice.”

Resident Bob Ballou said the credibility of county government here is at risk.

“This issue should be discussed in a public forum, not all these back-room meetings,” he said.

This decision marks the first time during this process that the planning commission will consider growth cap, one of the measures suggested in Douglas County’s master plan.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.