Growth should be up to residents
There is no utopia despite the fact people keep trying to create one for themselves.
What is one person’s dream can easily be another person’s nightmare. Such is the case with the growth issue facing Douglas County.
We believe the future growth issue should be put to a vote so those who live in the Carson Valley are deciding what happens there. The Sustainable Growth Initiative has been in and out of court. Just put it on the Nov. 5 ballot and let the voters decide on their community’s future.
But when you go to the precincts to vote go with your mind and not your heart. Growth is clearly an emotional issue. Just like the fact that you should never bet on your favorite sports team, you should not cast your ballot based on feelings. Arm yourselves with facts.
If the initiative passes, only 280 building permits could be issued each year. Currently there are no limits on how many residential building permits can be issued. According to the Douglas County Planning Department, there are an average of 525 permits taken out each year. There were 560 issued in 2001.
There are many reasons why people live in the valley. It is a rural way of life, with wide-open spaces. More building, whether it is residential or commercial, clearly changes the natural landscape. Instead of looking out for miles on end, there is the possibility of a building obstructing the view.
One reason for moving to the valley is for affordable housing. Home prices at the lake are far-exceeding income levels. Each year more people are commuting from the Carson Valley to work at the lake. But housing affordability at the lake is a different issue. There are also numerous retirees calling the valley home.
There are those who argue that if the growth initiative passes, it will artificially inflate the price of homes in the valley and at the lake in Douglas County. However, there is already proof that home prices are skyrocketing on the other side of the hill. The median price of a single-family home in the Minden-Gardnerville area was $219,000 in 2001, according to the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors. That is an increase of $45,000 from 2000 and up $61,000 from 1999.
Without a crystal ball, it is hard to accurately forecast what the growth initiative will do to prices. The fact is that home prices will go up no matter how many houses are built.
Already on the books is 33-acre phase of a planned 540-acre development by Ranchos LLC. It has been estimated that the land could carry 1,500-houses if it were to be fully developed. There have been harsh words about this development changing the look and feel of the area. The fact is that the developer expects to take 15 years to complete the project. The fact also remains that even if the growth initiative were in place, another 2,700 houses could be built in that time period.
No matter how many houses are built, the mild weather will always be a constant. One thing that will not be constant is the crime rate. It is a natural occurrence that more people means more crime. This is something for voters to consider.
More people means more demands on the infrastructure. This includes the roads, water use, schools, police and fire.
It is everyone’s responsibility to hold elected officials accountable to what is going on in the area. Go to the planning meetings, go to the commissioners’ meetings. Ask questions before the first nail is hammered in a new neighborhood.
Planned growth can work. Everyone can cite an example of a poorly planned community where traffic flow is abysmal and support services non-existent.
Growth is going to occur no matter what, it should be up to the voters of Douglas County to decide how and when.
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