Valley development proposal gets OK after heated debate
MINDEN — A peekaboo multimillion dollar housing development to be nestled in a saddle-shaped range that is closer to Carson City than Carson Valley was approved last week.
A full house, equally divided over the proposed Clear Creek Ranch project, filled the Douglas County Commission chambers and forced more than four hours of discussion.
Commissioner Tim Smith said he wanted to wait and “let the master plan work,” while the other commissioners voted to approve the master plan amendment to change the zoning from agriculture, and forest and range to a receiving area and to amend figures to allow for sewer and water.
The other motions approved by unanimous vote included the specific plan and planned development overlay, a tentative subdivision map and variance allowing greater setback and increased height limitations for the proposed clubhouse.
Developers from the Planning Center, based in Costa Mesa, made a presentation that was complimented and chastised. Project Manager Greg Haws showed several before-and-after doctored photos he said proves the development will be barely visible from Carson Valley.
The project site is bounded by U.S. Forest Service land, property owned by the Washoe tribe, private owners and Douglas County. It is a half-mile north of Jacks Valley Road and south of Old Clear Creek Road, west of Highway 395.
Several projects have been proposed and denied for the site. The Douglas County Planning Commission denied the project at its meeting last month. It cited several reasons, including that the project is not an appropriate use of the county’s transfer of development rights program, not consistent with the 1996 master plan, and that it is unnecessary to designate a new receiving area that would allow for development.
Owner John Serpa promises several benefits to Douglas County, including tax revenues — $15 million annually from residents and $5 million annually in property taxes.
The project, on 1,576 acres, includes 384 million-dollar homes and open space preserved through a 221-acre golf course, and 360 acres within residential areas.
Mimi Moss of the Community Development Department said 129 letters in support of the project and 36 letters in opposition were received by the county. A few days prior to the meeting, the Tahoe-Douglas and Carson Valley chambers of commerce sent letters to members asking for their support of the project. Byron Waite of the Business Council of Douglas County also spoke in support of the project.
Residents of neighboring communities to the project site in Alpine View Estates and off Bavarian Drive were also divided about the project.
Tensions increased during the meeting when Mary Bennington, a Washoe tribe representative, was cut off during the public comment section and other members in the audience were allowed more than the three minutes initially allotted.
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