Trails advocates seek easement through proposed subdivision
A Carson Valley trails group couldn’t convince Douglas County commissioners to force a developer to grant public trail access through a proposed residential area.
The Carson Valley Trails Association sought an easement to allow trail access that connects to both James and Water canyons, which lead to the Tahoe Rim Trail and Genoa Peak Road.
The planned development, located on the west side of Jacks Valley Road adjacent to Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch, calls for 59 homes to be built on 296 acres with parcels ranging in size from .6 to 1.6 acres.
Action on the project was postponed in January to allow more work on utility service and public access.
At Thursday’s meeting, developer Ron Simek’s representative, Rob Anderson, agreed to the recommendations made from the county for sewage disposal and to connect the project to the Genoa water system, but disagreed with allowing a trail easement on the south end of the development.
Mary Bennington, president of the the Carson Valley Trails Association, argued that an easement to the south by the developer would allow easy public access to the Tahoe Rim Trail and Genoa Peak Road.
She said trail access to the north would require a lot of red tape, because the property is privately held by the Washoe Tribe. She added that holding the developer to standards set by the county is in the best interest of the public.
“We would like to see that public access to public land be preserved,” Bennington told commissioners. “The master plan for the county strongly suggests that when subdivisions are proposed, access to public lands be provided.”
Anderson argued that plans for the development included access to the south for water tanks and pipelines. He added that his client has proposed to help the group locate an alternative easement to the north. The developer also offered a monetary donation.
Allowing the access would be adverse to the developer’s interests, Anderson said.
“We’re willing to work toward a solution, but my client stands firm on this,” Anderson said.
Commissioner Don Miner said the developer has agreed with the county on the recommendations regarding sewer and water and that “his feet should not be held to the fire” over trail access.
Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen disagreed with Miner, saying if the county is going to commit to allowing easements to public land, it must follow through with the commitment.
“We’ve required it before, why wouldn’t we require it now?” Etchegoyhen said. “I find it offensive that we’re proposing a private trail where a public one should be.”
County Manager Dan Holler said he will review the county trails plan because it is addressed in the county master plan.
“I think we need to sit down and identify points of access,” Holler said. “We need to develop a plan. Right now we have a generic plan.”