Storey group wants to put development ordinance on the ballot

By Karen Woodmansee

Appeal Staff Writer

A group of Storey County residents who are working to put a question on the November ballots got no action from the Storey County Commission on Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean there was no support.

Commissioner Bob Kershaw praised Joanne Aldrich and Bill Sjovangen along with the rest of the organizers who want to allow residents to vote on an ordinance designed to control growth.

But the commissioners voted 2-0 to take no action on the measure, as they were advised to do by legal council. Commission Chairman Greg "Bum" Hess abstained from voting.

In 2007, a controversial project proposed by developer Blake Smith of Reno called Cordevista was rejected by the commission, and Smith filed suit against the county. That lawsuit was the reason the commissioners gave for the way they voted.

"I do have to defer to counsel that it may impact the legal battle with the county," he said. "But if I was acting as a private citizen I would be the first one to sign the petition."

The proposed ballot measure would adopt the Storey County master plan as an ordinance and amend land use planning procedures to save open space by changing the approval process for proposed large residential subdivisions and planned unit developments.

The ballot advocacy group members were hoping the commissioners could approve it, but were not disappointed with the vote.

"I would say that we're happy because at least we got a decision and having that we know where we stand with the commissioners," Sjovangen said. "We are able to proceed and get the signatures and get on the November ballot."

The proposed ordinance would also allow commissioners to dismiss without further review any proposed development that has no identified, adequate and sustainable water source; does not conform to the master plan; would increase county population by more than 3 percent a year; does not include entire and total size, scope and scale of the project; will result in environmental degradation; and will not be financially beneficial or revenue-neutral to the county.

It would require three public workshops on any subdivision proposal that would require master plan amendment, zone change, water transfer or importation.

The proposal would require that a countywide public vote be held on any out-of-county water exports or imports.

Sjovangen, of the Virginia City Highlands, said the next step is filing paperwork with the county clerk and Nevada Secretary of State, then writing petitions and collecting signatures, Sjovangen said. The group has to collect 10 percent of those that voted in the last election, but was hoping to improve on that.

Sjovangen said the effort was designed to control the rate of growth in the county.

"It's just to start planning on limiting some growth up here and looking at these water issues," he said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 881-7351.


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