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Master Plan update approaches finish line

Open space is the one thing that most residents say they want to preserve.
Kurt Hildebrand

The chairman of the Douglas County Planning Commission defended the public outreach conducted as part of the update of the master plan on Thursday.

Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the final plan on Dec. 9-11. A majority of the board will leave office at the end of the year. 

Douglas County planning commissioners completed 25 hours of hearings by recommending approval of the plan 5-0, with two members absent.

Planning Commission Chairman Kirk Walder said that the planning commission took 165 separate votes during the hearings. Among the goals of the update was to streamline the plan from the 560-page 2011 plan, which is still in effect.

Walder said they got the plan down to 310 pages.

He said public comment included more than 1,000 comments, compared to 900 last year. He pointed out that Lyon County’s plan update had fewer than half the comments that Douglas County had.

Two public workshops were held on Sept. 9 and 11 where about 25 people turned out. About 200 people viewed the master plan workshops online, according to the county.

“We placed no limits on written comments neither in length, nor the number of submissions,” he said. “We stand ready to assist you in the completion of this important project.”

On Friday, an updated version of the planning commission’s work went online. 

Under Nevada law, a master plan is a guideline. The next board of commissioners will have to implement ordinances to implement the actions included in the plan.

Commissioner John Engels said the plan needs to address ground water issues.

Community Development Director Tom Dallaire said water is addressed in the agriculture and conservation and the public facilities elements in the plan.

“We did include more information on this because we knew it was a priority for this board,” he said.

“One thing everyone agrees on is that there are more paper water right than there are actual water rights,” Commissioner Dave Nelson pointed out.

Nelson asked why some of the community plan submitted by the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District wasn’t included in the draft.

Walder said some of the suggestions put forward by the Ranchos board exceeded its purview.

“All the general improvement districts have specific mandates and in some cases it included information outside of that,” Walder said. “We didn’t feel it was appropriate to include it in the documents because the board of commissioners has not had an opportunity to review it.”

Among the proposals submitted by the district were a requirement the county build a path between the Ranchos and the community center.

The revision includes some of the items that were in the draft approved by the planning commission three years ago, including a proposal to required a business license.

Planning commissioner Bryan Oland was adamant that the implementing a license would hurt county businesses.

Douglas is one of a handful of Nevada counties that doesn’t have a business license program.

The final draft of the plan is available for view at http://www.douglascountynv.gov/cms/one.aspx?pageId=16912602

Residents are encouraged to comment on the plan by emailing the county at masterplan@dougalsnv.us