Court should side with Douglas voters
November 11, 2002
The Nevada Supreme Court gets another chance to decide if citizen petitions are worth the paper they’re written on when it takes up Douglas County’s slow-growth initiative.
As with Reno’s train trench and Carson City’s Fuji Park/fairgrounds, the outcome of the court’s deliberations will be difficult to predict because the standards are vague.
The difference this time, however, is that the voters have spoken.
Last Tuesday, they gave a 53 percent-to-47 percent thumbs up to the initiative that caps new residential building permits at 280 each year. They also removed a county commissioner, Don Miner, who was seen as pro-development.
The growth cap is causing some panic among real-estate and construction industries in Douglas, because it’s quite restrictive. Unlike Carson City’s 3 percent ceiling on building permits, which is almost never reached, Douglas County would rapidly use up the 280, which is closer to a 2 percent cap on growth.
It’s not surprising a growth cap would be favored by most voters. It tends to close the gate behind the people who already have homes in Carson Valley, and will certainly increase their property values.
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And that’s what initiative petitions are all about.
Although it has slowed in recent years, Douglas County had a history for most of a decade of rapid growth. How that growth was managed and planned has been one of the county’s most controversial topics right along.
A group of residents decided they’d had enough and circulated petitions. On Election Day, the voters backed them up.
It would be a shame if the Nevada Supreme Court kills that effort by overturning the initiative. After getting it wrong on the trench and Fuji/fairgrounds, here’s a perfect opportunity to start getting it right.
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