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Residents have major concerns

by Sharon Carter

The Redevelopment Citizens Advisory Committee’s report to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners at their joint meeting Thursday held no surprises.

RCAP chairman Tony Prestigiacomo told commissioners that, in general, there was support for adding sewer and water systems to alleviate future problems that may arise in the proposed Evaluation Area 1 in the northwest portion of the county.

“And also, though to a lesser extent, there was positive comment to facilitate commercial development in the North County,” Prestigiacomo said.

The proposed evaluation area includes Walley’s Hot Springs, the town of Genoa and its environs – including the Genoa Lakes, Sierra Shadows and Foothill Meadows subdivisions, Sierra Nevada Golf Course and its adjacent planned development at Little Mondeaux, the North County area of Jacks Valley between Highway 395 and Jacks Valley Elementary including the Sierra Estates General Improvement District, the Ridgeview area of Indian Hills and the commercial area at the Carson City border.

But, Prestigiacomo said, residents in the area had major concerns that needed to be addressed.

“The (rapid) time frame may have merit for potential economic benefits, but people want it to take its time and progress naturally,” he said. “There is also perception of insufficient investigation and explanation of alternative methods to finance the projects, people are asking: ‘Are they force-fitting us?’

“The most asked question is: ‘Does the county have alternative ways to finance these projects?'” he said. “There’s not enough detail or credibility on whether the homework has really been done.”

Prestigiacomo said the RCAP, characterized by Commissioner Bernie Curtis as the commission’s “arrow catchers” in the redevelopment assessment, has heard residents debating the meaning of the state’s redevelopment statute, allegations of favoritism toward specific developers – including suggestions the RCAP may be biased because some of its members are builders.

He said there are concerns about losses of revenue to the fire and school districts and the sheriff’s office once the tax increment goes to redevelopment.

And, he said, some residents in Jacks Valley and Sierra Shadows have objected to being included in the evaluation area.

Jacks Valley resident, Lois Kohler, who lives on the south side of Arcadia Drive, asked commissioners and RCAP members why an area she described as pristine needed to be redeveloped. Kohler also asked if the county would pay for her water rights if her well failed and she opted to connect to a proposed regional water system. (By state law, every home in Nevada is entitled to 1.12 acre-feet of water.)

Genoan Rosalie Saunders, who lives in Sierra Shadows, told the joint boards her neighborhood has paved streets, is on water meters, has backup fire flows from Genoa Lakes and relatively new septic systems and, as a consequence, does not need redevelopment.

Minden planning consultant Ray Smith said he was worried about the economics of the situation. Smith cautioned officials to slow down and be very sure redevelopment will generate enough revenue to pay its bills. While the county may not be legally liable for the program’s debts, he said, it would still be morally responsible.

“(Because) the county commission sits as the Redevelopment Board and adopts the ordinances,” Smith said. “The county would have a moral liability if the program fails.”

Genoa rancher Shirley Giovacchini said she was in favor of redevelopment.

“While we’d prefer to keep wells and still have a population of 3,000 (in the Carson Valley), things are not going to go backwards. Go ahead as fast as possible,” Giovacchini said.

Commissioner Don Miner summed up the county view of redevelopment process for residents who attended the meeting.

“This is R&D (research and development),” Miner said. “We know our water supply is tainted. We know we’ll have to replace our sewer systems and we also know we don’t fare well on ballot issues to finance things. We’re looking at redevelopment as a potential tool that might facilitate balancing our needs.”

Prior to its joint meeting with RCAP, the board of commissioners acted to:

n Proclaim April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Douglas County.

n Approve a first reading of an amendment to the development agreement with the Carson Valley Business Park. The agreement in principle will include signal fees for lights on Highway 395 and sewer, water and drainage improvements.

n Approved a second reading of a change in the regulation which bans fishing in Lampe Park. People aged 16 and younger and people officially recognized as being disabled will be permitted to fish portions of the Cottonwood Slough in Lampe Park when the ordinance is published and takes effect.

n And, at the Genoa Town Board’s request, commissioners approved amending the county code to allow the town’s three-person governing body to increase its membership to five.

Douglas District Attorney Scott Doyle told the commissioners the revised ordinance will take effect once it is published – a process he said that would be completed before the public office filing period opens May 4.

At that time, Doyle said, the commission could make temporary appointments to fill the vacant positions for the balance of the year.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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