Ranchos church denied permit
March 13, 2016
A permit request to build a new church in a Gardnerville Ranchos neighborhood was denied 3-2 by Douglas County planning commissioners on Tuesday.
The Great Life Church is seeking to build a 4,988-square-foot house of worship on the lot at the intersection of Dresslerville Road and Riverview Drive near the northeast entrance to the Ranchos.
Planning commissioners narrowly found that the request did not meet the findings necessary to approve a permit.
Churches are allowed in residential neighborhoods in Douglas County with a special use permit, according to Planning Manager Hope Sullivan.
Residents said that the intersection of Riverview and Dresslerville was congested already, and that the estimated 71 trips in and out for the church would contribute to that.
Charles Fecteau said he's lived on Riverview Drive since 1991.
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"I have the exact same zoning and the same size lot," he said. "If there was any onstreet parking, I couldn't pull into my own property. I've sat (at the stop sign) for 10 minutes trying to turn left waiting for people to come up the hill."
Resident Janine Hamilton pointed out that the master plan requires the county to seek to develop vacant or underutilized land.
"There's a lot of traffic there over a short period of time," she said.
Tumbleweed Court resident Heather Bodily said she bought her property because of its rural nature.
"We have grapes and chickens," she said. "We don't want a big church there. That's a major thoroughfare into the Ranchos. This is going to create a big problem."
Project engineer Keith Shaffer of Manhard Consulting said the 4,988-square-foot church included the fellowship hall within its footprint.
"Just to be clear, this isn't a building with a separate fellowship hall, it's incorporated in the building," he said.
The project was not required to do a traffic study because the estimated traffic was lower than the threshold of 80 trips per day or 500 a week, Sullivan said.
Pastor Larry Spivey said the home on the property will remain and serve as the parsonage. He agreed that the traffic in the area is substantial the other six days of the week.
"Traffic is nothing compared to what it is the other six days a week," Spivey said. "We mean nothing but good to the community."
Planning commissioners Brian Davis, Jim Madsen and Margaret Pross voted to deny the permit. Jim Beattie and Frank Godecke voted in favor. Planning commissioners Joetta Brown and Anje de Knif were absent.
The 1.28-acre parcels was purchased by the Pentecostal Church of God in June 2015 for $285,000, according to the Douglas County Assessor's Office. That was three months after FISH purchased the congregation's previous location on Mitch Drive for $350,000 to build a dining hall. That permit was also denied by the planning commission. Sullivan said FISH is using the property pending appeal of that denial.