Proponents of low-income apartments optimistic about a compromise |

Proponents of low-income apartments optimistic about a compromise

by Sharon Carter

Attorneys for Douglas County and the developer of an affordable housing complex planned for the Elges Lane area of Gardnerville have agreed to postpone their day in court.

Attorneys for Picerne Development Corp., the developer of the proposed Crestmore Village Apartments, and the county asked that their hearing before District Judge David R. Gamble be postponed until Oct. 27 in order that they may come to some sort of compromise.

Michael Derloshon, of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry’s Housing Division, said Thursday Picerne has put the lawsuit against Douglas County on hold.

“Crestmore is under a strict IRS time line. At this point it looks positive, but they’re still on deadline,” Derloshon said. “If they can get the project put together by Dec. 31 of this year, we’re confident they will meet the requirement that they have certificates of occupancy by Dec. 31, 1999.”

Derloshon said in order to effect a compromise, the Crestmore project will be brought before the Gardnerville Town Board Thursday. It was Gardnerville officials who had initially recommended denying project earlier this year. It will then return to the Douglas County Planning Commission, which had originally approved it. The project would then likely be brought before the county commission on Nov. 5 for final approval.

If compromise efforts fail, the Oct. 27 hearing date would still allow time for Picerne to argue its case before Gamble and, if successful, meet its deadlines.

n Tax credits. At stake are state-administered federal income tax credits which were awarded to Picerne. The credits are allocated to developers of affordable housing to help fund the projects. Developers may take the tax credits themselves – thereby reducing their own income taxes. They may also borrow against them or sell them outright.

The lawsuit arose after Douglas commissioners denied the project on March 5, saying it ran counter to the county’s master plan which envisioned affordable housing integrated into the community.

County officials sided with residents on Elges Lane who protested the proposed construction of the three-building, 40-unit affordable housing complex they said would negatively impact their neighborhood. In particular, residents objected to increased traffic on Elges Lane and the thought that their homes could become an island of single-family residences in a sea of apartment complexes.

When the project was denied, Picerne filed a writ of mandamus and a Fair Housing complaint.

The writ asked that the Gamble order the county to restore rights and privileges they say it illegally deprived the developer. The writ argued that Douglas commissioners did not properly perform their ministerial duty when they denied Picerne’s request for a multi-family zoning overlay on the company’s Elges property.

Although the five-acre parcel was zoned for single-family residences, it was also designated as a receiving area by the Douglas County Master Plan. The receiving area designation allows the property to be rezoned for multi-family residence for affordable housing purposes without requiring a master plan amendment.

In early June, the developer of a proposed adjacent project, which designed affordable housing into a planned community of “market-rate” single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, told Elges residents at a meeting of the Gardnerville town board that he would talk to Picerne representatives.

Bob Lomas, of the Affordable Housing Group, Inc., of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, who was then putting together a conceptual plan for the proposed Oakwood development, told the residents he would suggest to Picerne that it buffer Crestmore from the neighborhood with some single-family homes. Lomas also said he would talk to Picerne about coordinating with Oakwood to make Elges Lane into a cul-de-sac.

n Hopeful for compromise. The likelihood of a compromise has Derloshon guardedly hopeful.

“We could have pulled the tax credits at anytime after the project was denied by the county,” Derloshon said. “But we still believe Crestmore is a viable, needed project for the area.”

Derloshon said protecting the state’s tax credits requires critical timing.

“If nothing happens, we’d have to decide to pull the credits by Jan. 2, 1999,” he said.

Derloshon said his office was reluctant to remove the credits before then because it would jeopardize the state’s 1998 federal tax credits.

“Dealing with federal government programs, if you don’t use something, you lose it,” he said. “But if we let it go too long, Nevada risks losing two future years in the national pool for tax credits.”

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