MINDEN (AP) — A majority of Douglas County commissioners are raising concerns about the impact of growth on local traffic and water supplies — and at least one wants to consider a moratorium on new building permits in the rural county south of Carson City.
Walt Nowosad, one of two new commissioners elected to the five-member board in November, said controlling growth was one of his campaign’s priorities.
Commissioner Mark Gardner, who was re-elected to another four-year term, and Commission Chairman John Engels previously have expressed concerns about growth’s threat to precious water supplies in the high desert.
The other new member, Danny Tarkanian, ran as a pro-development candidate after moving to Gardnerville in 2019.
At their first meeting last week, Gardner suggested requiring any development rights used to build come from the same watersheds and that unallocated building permits under the growth control ordinance be zeroed out, The Record-Courier of Gardnerville reported.
Engels said the county — with a population of about 50,000 stretching to the east shore of Lake Tahoe — can’t preserve its rural character if it continues to approve large projects.
“We cannot have it both ways, either massive development or rural,” Engels said. “The congestion on our local roads, in our supermarkets and our local medical facilities are now stretched to the breaking point.”
Nowosad said he’ll consider proposing a building permit moratorium following the completion of a $3 million hydrologic study of the Humboldt River basin by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Desert Research Institute.
Engels spent his first two years in the minority on the board. But on Monday, he was elected the new chairman with the support of Gardner and Nowosad.
The previous majority approved master plan and development amendments permitting the transfer of 1,044 acres of the Sleeping Elephant Ranch in Topaz Ranch Estates to Park Ranch Holdings property north of Minden in exchange for the right-of-way for 3 miles of a parkway.
On Dec. 17, Engels tried to head off funding design work on the route, but the county is obligated to build two lanes of the parkway by 2025 at a cost of $12.4 million.
The same day, commissioners approved a specific plan for the Park Ranch property that eventually would allow 2,218 housing units to be developed in six phases over 30 years.
The Park Ranch project is subject to the county’s 2% growth cap, but because there was little building after the Great Recession, the county accumulated a pool of more than 1,700 building permits.
Tarkanian, the son the late legendary University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian who ran unsuccessfully several times for Congress, defeated incumbent commissioner Dave Nelson in the GOP primary in June and was unopposed in the general election with the backing of area chambers of commerce.