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Growth a hot topic for Douglas County citizens group

Susie Vasquez
Shannon Litz / Tribune News Service/ The first meeting of the Good Government Group of Douglas County took place on Wednesday at the CVIC Hall.
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GARDNERVILLE – Growth, and what it’s doing to Douglas County’s rural character, was the primary concern of more than 100 residents at a meeting of the Good Government Group of Douglas County last week.

This was the first meeting for the group, an umbrella organization designed to reach out to residents with concerns about Douglas County.

Topics ran the gamut, including the sustainable growth initiative.

The measure, which was approved in 2002, would limit annual housing starts to 280 in Douglas County. The issue is now mired in litigation.

“In the almost 21Ú2 years since the district court’s order, the Supreme Court has decided that district court should respond further,” said John Garvin, a spokesman for the Sustainable Growth Committee. “What appears uncertain at this time is whether the question of the initiative’s validity will be subject to piecemeal litigation, whereby each issue will be separately litigated in a back-and-forth process.”

By the time the litigation is settled, Garvin fears the point will be moot.

“In the meantime, Douglas County approved 4,000 more homes,” he said.

Minden attorney Bill Shaw said passing an ordinance regarding limitations on building, or a new initiative, is usually more effective than a court order that requires proof of irreparable harm.

“In 1976, the state engineer said Carson City was out of water. There could be no more subdivisions,” Shaw said. “A moratorium was set on all building until the county acquired more water rights.”

As a result of that issue, the big developers left Carson City and since then, the maximum 3 percent growth rate has been approached only twice, Shaw said.

Resident issues included everything from the airport to Muller Parkway.

Karl Malkmus, who was involved in a fight over the location of Muller Parkway, made a call for unity.

“Keep the voters split and government officials can run the county,” he said. “If someone’s ox is gored in the Ranchos, no one will come to their aid and it’s too costly to take them (government) to court.”

Terry Faff, a Douglas County resident who has attended and filmed commission meetings for about two years, urged residents to work with county officials to solve the problems.

“I’ve never seen 80 percent of you at those meetings,” he said. “You need to attend. You need to be organized and consistent, hit the commissioners with legitimate, strong arguments.”

Resident Marion Barritt said she tried to work within the system for years, but it didn’t work. Her solution, which she said has been effective for a number of years, is working with other groups to make changes.

“That was a different commission,” Faff countered. “Residents need to come at the commissioners with irrefutable, effective arguments.”

David Nelson, one of the organizers of the Good Government Group effort, said it’s very clear at public meetings that residents living next to receiving areas don’t want them developed.

“We don’t want any more receiving areas in our master plan,” he said.

The master plan amendments to be considered at upcoming commission meetings are posted on the Good Government Group’s Web site, http://www.gggdc.com, Nelson said.


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