Help decide the destiny of Lyon County

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The destiny of development of the Dayton-Mound House corridor is quietly being etched into reality - and its seems as if no one cares.

On Feb. 27, the 13-member Central Lyon County Land Use Master Plan Advisory Committee presented the public its first opportunity to comment on their proposal. All of approximately 60 people showed up to view and discuss a design that will affect growth and impact the lives of all who live here for decades.

Apparently, the vast majority of the approximately 10,000 inhabitants of this rampantly growing region don't give a darn and are willing to let their quality of life be determined by a professional planner, a few dedicated residents and some very interested developers.

On March 2, a small but enthusiastic group of 40 residents participated in the first step toward establishing a master plan directed to meeting county park and recreational needs. Pretty poor turnout for a countywide population of 35,000!

Why the apathy? Are residents unaware these plans will be used to guide decisions for the next 10 years, at least, or do the vast majority of families living in Lyon County actually believe their lives will not be affected.

Are they aware the proposed land use plan would allow the population of west central Lyon County to grow from its current 12,000 to 30,000 within the next 20 years and to 70,000 in 50 years?

Are they aware the proposed land use map illustrates a split of approximately 75 percent residential development versus 25 percent manufacturing/commercial? Most of that residential zoning will allow four or more homes per acre.

Alluding to the preponderance of space allocated to high density residential development, the attendees at last week's meeting were justifiably concerned that mid to lower cost housing packed onto 6,000 to 12,000 square foot lots will not generate the tax revenue needed to build new schools, support additional fire and other emergency services, build the necessary roads, support new park construction and maintenance or buy us enough police officers.

Inevitably, taxes will increase, whether through bonds, property taxes, sales taxes, et al. This will affect everyone!

Were those responsible for drafting this land use plan neglectful in not planning for more economically balanced growth? Not necessarily.

Was the committee "stacked" in favor of developers? No. Anyone with the interest to do so could have been appointed to serve. The committee's size was not limited. This group of volunteers should be commended for their two years of diligence and dedication.

The Mound House-Dayton area is faced with a dilemma. The large landowners are apparently not willing to bank their future on industrial development. Houses, regardless of how small the lots, are selling like hotcakes. With large industrial parks being developed in Storey, Washoe and north Lyon counties, dedicating a large amount of acreage to manufacturing in Dayton could be a risky investment.

Consequently, those large landowners involved with drawing up the proposed plan have leaned toward residential growth and want the ability to squeeze as many homes on their land as possible. This does not make them evil. It doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do, but if I were fortunate enough to be in such a position I might be tempted to do the same.

So, what can an interested public do to change this scenario -- if, indeed, it actually warrants changing?

Become familiar with the planning map, read the proposed land use plan and attend at least one of the remaining meetings. Tell the committee what you want, why you want it and where you want it.

What do you want this community to look like 50 years down the road? Do you envision an apartment building, grocery store or 400-lot subdivision next to five-acre parcels or $200,000 homes? Should Highway 50 become one continuous strip mall?

Do you know where open space and parks are proposed? Do you think there should be more, or less? Do you want more hiking, biking trails? Do you want greater public access to the Carson River?

Dayton and Mound House residents spent a good deal of time a few years ago in drafting suggested master plan amendments. They were submitted to the county. Have they been adhered to, or even acknowledged?

Future public meetings are scheduled for March 13 (Mound House Fire Station), March 27 (Silver City), with a final meeting on April 10 (Dayton Community Center), before a plan is submitted to the county commissioners for final approval.

Maps may be viewed at the Dayton Library, the Dayton Community Center and the Dayton office of the Leader-Courier. For information/questions call 577-5035.

To paraphrase an old adage: Bad planning is a result of good people not getting involved. Time is running very short in regards to planning options for this area. A time will soon come when there are simply no choices left.

Think about it.

Nancy Dallas, who reports on Lyon County for the Nevada Appeal, is a former county commissioner and planning commissioner.


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