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Supreme Court decision draws mixed reviews

by Susie Vasquez

Marsha Tomerlin, owner of Coldwell Banker Itildo Realtors, said limiting the number of homes built in Douglas County to 280 a year will mean tremendous losses for those building subdivisions.

“Developers who have built roads in their subdivisions but aren’t allowed to build homes on their property will be ruined,” she said.



Thursday’s 3-2 Supreme Court decision reversed District Court Judge Michael Gibbons’ summary judgment against the 280-home cap, but also remanded the debate back to his courtroom for further proceedings.

If it’s supported there, real estate home values will escalate but the cost of vacant land will plummet, Tomerlin said.



“If there are 6,000 lots waiting for permits and only 280 permits, some of those people may never get a permit,” she said.

The issues will be discussed at a special meeting of Douglas County’s planning commission and board of commissioners, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden.

Comptroller Claudette Springmeyer said Douglas County could experience some financial challenges if the decision is upheld in District Court.

“The board may have two options,” she said. “They could give the staff direction to work on codifying the initiative or litigate further.”

Douglas County officials anticipated an onslaught of nervous developers and home builders on Friday. The coffee was ready in the lobby, but the builders didn’t show up, said Mitch Dion, community development director.

“We set up stanchions to deal with an influx that didn’t occur,” he said. “So we took them down.”

Until a more definitive decision is made, county officials must cover all bases. They’ll be ready with the coffee again Monday morning, which could be another peak time, Dion said.

“We’re issuing permits as we do normally, but we’re counting the numbers,” Dion said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some policy direction from the planning commission and county commissioners Thursday.”

He urged Douglas residents to attend.

“I think it’s an important time for people be engaged, to know what’s going on in their community,” he said.

Garry Leiss of Verus Realty blamed The Record-Courier for the flood of people calling him about completing their building plans now.

“You have everyone stirred up because of your headlines,” he said.

Leiss said the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee was responsible for an expensive four-year water study being conducted by county officials.

“They insisted we were short on water,” he said. “It will be another two years before the water study is finalized, but the water master can determine how much we need in 15 seconds.”

John Garvin, co-chairman of the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee, said he was very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“They did a pretty good job of answering the issues everyone has been talking about,” he said. “The air is a lot more clear, but now it’s back to district court and the question is, where do we go from here?”

There’s always the potential for the parties involved to sit down and reach an agreement, Garvin said.

“We’ve always been open to sitting down with the other side,” Garvin said. “But the voters would have to be O.K. with that. We won’t sell out the voters.”

The District Court decision reversed Thursday was handed down in February 2003, Garvin said.

“It must be frustrating for voters to go through this proceeding when their vote should have counted from the beginning,” he said. “We’re very willing to go forward and try this case.”

The initiative was approved by voters in November 2002. Following that approval, it was appealed in district court, where Judge Michael Gibbons ruled against it.

The Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee then appealed Gibbons’ decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Jumpers LLC and Douglas County charge the initiative is unreasonable and bears no substantial relationship to public health, safety, morals or general welfare. Proponents contend the initiative will preserve Carson Valley’s quality of life and rural character.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.

What: Joint meeting of the Douglas County planning commission and county commissioners

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, (time is approximate)

Where: Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth Street, Minden