Park project debate comes to head Aug. 1
The last time the Park family came before county commissioners, they filed a lawsuit over the denial of a 187-unit project between Westwood and the Carson River’s East Fork.
So the possibility for more legal wrangling between the county and one of its largest landowners may have contributed to an application for an even larger project on land along the northern boundary of Minden and Gardnerville.
County commissioners introduced an ordinance on Monday establishing a development agreement allowing the Parks to build 2,500 homes across 1,044 acres in exchange for the entire right of way for Muller Lane Parkway.
Commissioners are scheduled to debate a master plan amendment and the development agreement at their Aug. 1 meeting.
Attorney Mary Anne Martin said density for the project would be transferred from 1,044 acres across from Topaz Ranch Estates known as the Sleeping Elephant Ranch.
Park Holdings attempted to transfer density from the south county property to the Klauber Ranch located south of Muller Lane.
That project was denied by county commissioners on March 7, resulting in a lawsuit filed a few weeks later.
In it, Park attorneys claim Commissioners Dave Nelson and John Engels attended the Good Government Group meetings to encourage opposition to the project.
They also cite a change of procedure at the Feb. 7 introduction of the ordinance that limited the staff and applicant presentations. However, Commission Chairman Barry Penzel allowed public comment at the hearing, something the applicant’s representative protested at the time.
Park attorneys claim that allowing public comment at the Feb. 7 meeting was a violation of Nevada law.
They also said planning staff changed its recommendation from favorable to unfavorable after the planning commission vote.
They point out that a majority of the opposition to the project, which was rejected in part because it is in the floodplain, was from people who lived in projects allowed in the floodplain.
While the county is denying the allegations, Martin said the agreement before the county would prevent new construction on the Klauber Ranch.
Under the agreement the county would have to build two lanes of Muller Lane Parkway across the Park land within six years.
While the county has an agreement with the Parks dating back to 2007 for the right of way for Muller Parkway, Park attorney Mark Forsberg claimed that agreement has expired.
Martin said there has been some back and forth on whether the current right of way is still valid.
The agreement also would give the county right of way for Muller Parkway through Ashland Park just north of Toler Lane. That property is also owned by the Parks. They would have to pay for one lane across that land.
The agreement would also provide easements for culverts to remove up to 100 Minden residents from the flood plain, detention ponds, a path along the Virginia Ditch.
The project would be subject to Douglas County’s growth cap.
Nelson said he was opposed to transferring density from Topaz Ranch Estates to Minden.
“I’d like to know how many lots and parcels can be built along Muller Parkway now,” he said. “It’s already a very large number. Muller Parkway is going to be obsolete before we build it. I don’t like it.”
Martin told Penzel that if the development agreement and master plan amendment are approved, it could result in settlement of the Klauber Ranch lawsuit and prevent litigation over whether the county still has the right of way for Muller Parkway.
Commissioners have been told that failure to build the parkway will reduce the level of service for traffic in Carson Valley.
Martin said she wouldn’t encourage any commissioner to vote for the agreement if they didn’t intend to build Muller Parkway.
The Parkway has been on the books in Douglas County for more than 30 years, first proposed as a way around the towns.