Town working towards control of Toler Lane landscaping
November 4, 2011
Town and county officials are still in the process of settling stewardship of landscaping along Toler Lane in Gardnerville.
In February, a settlement between the Town of Gardnerville and the Chichester Homeowner’s Association released the latter from any obligations in maintaining improvements along the north side of Toler Lane, which abuts the subdivision.
The town sued the association after homeowners indicated in a letter they’d be shutting off electricity and water to the landscaping. The association also changed their charter to amend a clause that had included maintenance of the Toler easement – a move that Gardnerville unsuccessfully challenged in court.
As a result of the settlement, 29 homeowners along Toler Lane became responsible for maintenance of the wall, while the town agreed to maintain landscaping.
The problem is that much of the landscaping still resides on private property within an easement dedicated to the county. The easement runs about 4-5 feet between the wall and the public right-of-way.
“The town maintains a public storm drain that is located within the landscape and storm drainage easement, adjacent to the wall and outside the right-of-way in most cases,” Town Manager Tom Dallaire wrote in a letter to homeowners. “This means that the block wall cannot be relocated to the property or right-of-way line.”
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Dallaire said there’s still confusion over access to and work within the easement.
“There is an unclear issue dealing with the town’s right to access private property, specifically for maintenance of the existing landscaping and the town’s need to have the ability to cut down trees, overgrown trees and shrubs originally planted within private property,” he said.
He currently is working with Douglas County on a quitclaim deed that would officially cede responsibility of the easement from the county to the town. The measure would have to be approved by county commissioners.
“We are working with the county to get the draft document finalized,” Dallaire said. “Once the town obtains the right to access the private property, the town is planning to remove some of the larger trees and shrubs, all junipers, and overgrown shrubs before they cause more damage to the existing wall and/or sidewalk.”
Dallaire said the town is teaming up with the Main Street Design Committee and professional birder Jim Woods to beautify the pedestrian path with more drought-resistant landscaping, which will save taxpayers money in the long run by reducing watering and maintenance costs.
“Now, what we’ve been doing, is about $9,000 a year; the water is pretty expensive,” he said. “We want to get that down to about $4,000-$5,000 a year.”
Dallaire said town board members have considered charging homeowners for the cost of the landscaping.
“But that would just end up costing more in staff time to maintain billing,” he said. “So instead of charging homeowners, the board decided they wanted to reduce the cost to maintain that section.”
He expects landscaping improvements to begin this spring.
“We’re going to get rid of the grass and put down some DG (decomposed granite),” he said. “We’ll have shrubs that have color and contrast. We want to open it up a little. It’s a nice place to walk, but it’s really getting enclosed.”