Douglas County approves new golf course ordinance

Kurt Hildebrand
Record Courier

A managing partner of two of Carson Valley’s golf courses said he felt the golf courses were being singled out for special treatment at Thursday’s hearing.

Genoa Lakes Partner Fred Gartrell said he felt that a fine of up to $750 a day for violating the ordinance was excessive. There is no cap on the accumulated penalty against the owners of nonresidential open space.

Sunridge Golf Course owner Dan Oster told commissioners he opposed the ordinance.

“We have no intention of closing,” he said. “We’re looking at investing $100-$200 million into new infrastructure and activities that would include another 18 holes of golf, a multi-use complex for youth sports and other tourist-based amenities.”

He said that while the ordinance isn’t going to derail plans for the course, that he felt the ordinance targets one industry.

Chief Deputy Civil District Attorney Doug Ritchie said that the fine affected any nonresidential open space in the county.

The fine was increased from $150 a day in the new ordinance. Residential property owners will face a civil penalty of $250 up to a total civil penalty of $25,000.

Gartrell said Genoa Lakes put on 23 charitable golf tournaments during the last year.

“We’re a big taxpayer in the county and we provide a lot of services,” he said. “This ordinance is unnecessary, unfair and unconstitutional.”

Genoa Golf Group IV purchased both Genoa Lakes courses in 2014 after they had been in bankruptcy for $3.25 million.

The issue developed back in August 2018, when the partnership sought support for building additional homes in the southern and more senior course.

At the time the owners told residents they didn’t realize that the covenants, codes and restrictions limited the property to 220 homes.

That prompted residents to seek an ordinance similar to one implemented in Southern Nevada to ensure that should owners close a golf course, there’s a means to ensure it is maintained.

“This is not a wild and crazy extreme proposal,” resident Jim Hartman said. “We don’t want to see a golf course weaponized against its residents.”

Indian Hills General Improvement District Manager John Lufrano said the ordinance would offer golf course residents some assurance should the course close.

“This will give them some peace of mind that if it has to happen, that they have some sort of avenue to know that their property values won’t be affected too much,” he said.

Resident Nancy Edmonton showed commissioners a stack of 684 signed petitions from residents living along Carson Valley’s golf courses in favor of the ordinance.

Hartman told commissioners he didn’t want to make it about Genoa Lakes, even though that was where the issue was first raised.

Under the new ordinance, each day the owner of a golf course, open space or any nonresidential property fails to correct a violation, they could be subject to up to a $750 a day civil penalty.

The ordinance requires that irrigation systems be kept repaired, along with maintaining and securing buildings.

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