Growth management is not new in Northern Nevada |

Growth management is not new in Northern Nevada

Jill Keller, Appeal Staff Writer
Rick GunnRick DeMar talks on the phone in his office at the Builders Association of Western Nevada on Tuesday afternoon. DeMar, executive officer of the group, is happy with Carson City's growth management. 'Our growth cap has been in place many years,' he said. 'It's a successful program. We didn't let the no-growthers dictate to us how to run our county.'

While Douglas County struggles with its recent voter-approved growth restriction mandate, the idea of controlling growth in Carson City and surrounding areas is not new.

Carson City, Washoe County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency have started different growth-management systems with the intention of promoting responsible growth within their communities.

The only county in the area that has not restricted growth is Lyon County, which approved zoning changes Tuesday that will eventually bring another 4,800 homes to the area.

Carson City was mandated by the state in 1978 to create a plan that restricted growth in order to assure new subdivisions could be provided sewer and water service.

Since 1983, they city has allowed 3 percent growth in residential units. The system was modified in 1988 to ensure that those who pulled permits actually built houses.

When a permit is issued now, the applicant must pay $5,000 for sewer and water hook-ups.

“Since (1988) the plan has worked flawlessly,” said Walt Sullivan, director of community development in Carson City. “I think (the program) has been very successful in managing the growth. We grow within our resources.”

A local building group has no problems with the way Carson City manages growth, according to Rick DeMar, executive officer of the Builders Association of Western Nevada.

“Our growth cap has been in place many years,” DeMar said. “It’s a successful program. We didn’t let the no-growthers dictate to us how to run our county.”

Washoe County manages growth by making it difficult for developers to change pre-set plans that designate how many homes can be built in each area.

The county uses a map that integrates future land-use designations with current zoning. Any time a developer requests a zoning or land-use change, they have to go through a comprehensive plan amendment, which is a difficult process, according to Adrian Freund, director of community development.

The county set its desired conditions for growth in 1993. In the past two years, fewer than 10 significant master-plan amendments have been approved that would increase the numbers of homes built in rural Washoe County, Freund said.

“It really is a very different approach,” Freund said. “Here people can understand pretty readily what the future land and zoning is on a property.”

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approaches growth in the Lake Tahoe Basin by handing out a number of allocations each year. The agency is mandated by its regulations to balance responsible growth with the protection of the Lake Tahoe environment.

Every few years, the agency determines how many new buildings and residences can be allowed while still maintaining a balance between construction and natural environment.

TRPA reaches out to neighboring governmental agencies to determine a set number of new residential allocations. In the past, the agency has allocated 300 new residential units per year for the entire basin. The number may decrease beginning in 2003 because of the region’s failure to meet the agency’s environmental goals.