Master plan won’t make everyone happy |

Master plan won’t make everyone happy

by Margaret Pross

For those of you that have been unable to attend all the meetings involved in the master plan update process, I would like to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed. This master plan update cycle was to focus on the growth management element, the economics element, the tribal lands element and portions of the conservation element and the land use element. More than a dozen public meetings held in 2005 led to the planning commission and the board of commissioners decision to hire a consultant to assist in addressing the master plan update. It was later decided that additional meetings would be added to that contract to make sure that all the stakeholders would be heard.

To that end, the design workshop held several meetings for each of the groups, open space, agriculture and business stakeholder, as well as meetings combining all the groups. Three meetings held by the planning commission to listen to the public’s concerns and views on chapter 9, growth management element of the master plan in addition to the regular planning commission meetings and the joint meetings of the board of commissioners and the planning commission on the master plan.

After listening to the comments of those who attended the ag stakeholders meetings, it was decided that an agriculture element would be added to the master plan that would be based on the comments of those in attendance of those meetings. Items included in the ag element addressed issues and concerns that the ranching and farming community expressed were important to them during the stakeholders meetings. Since the last planning commission meeting, additional meetings have been held and more are scheduled with the ranchers that were either not in attendance at the stakeholders meetings or felt that their issues were not adequately addressed. Consideration will also be given to their concerns.

Due to the creation and addition of the agriculture element, chapter 7, to the master plan, adjustments had to be made within the document. Minor changes were made in the conservation element. This element is now chapter 5. Changes were also made in portions of the land use element to reflect the zoning change in multi-use commercial, Gardnerville’s request for 5,000-square-foot lots as well as an effort to clarify the information contained in this section. These density changes were discussed and approved by the planning commission during public hearings before the ordinances were sent to the board of commissioners where they were adopted with some changes. Further revisions of these ordinances can be made if necessary. Goals and policies were renumbered due to changes and additions to the master plan.

The majority of the conservation and land use elements will be updated in 2007 as well as the population and housing element which will include updating all the data contained in that section, public services and facilities element, regional and community plans element and the supportive maps and diagrams. The upcoming hydrology and traffic studies will provide updated data which will facilitate the update of those sections.

In addition to the master plan update, the county has received an extension on the funding from the question one bond to allow for the update of the open space plan to be done in 2007.

We are currently on the third draft of the master plan. With all the reports, meeting notes and other correspondence related to the master plan update, over 4,000 pages of documentation were submitted for review.

As with all things, this document means different things to different people. There are as many ideas as there are people for all of us are individuals and independent thinkers. That’s a good thing. But it means that all of us are not going to be happy with everything in the master plan. As we are not perfect, this document is not going to be perfect. That said, we have an opportunity to work together in this update and work towards the best result that can be accomplished. We must remember that the master plan is just that, a plan, a guideline for the future. Time and our little world of Douglas County are ever changing so this document must continue to adapt to those changes and will do so through the update process. We invite you to join us in this process.

Our thanks to all those who took time out of their busy lives to attend any of the various meetings we have held. We appreciate all the constructive comments that have come from those meetings. Please join us at the next Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 12.

n Margaret Pross is a Douglas County planning commissioner.