By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Submitted July 16, 2008
In making improvements to property, Clark County will be treated like any other developer. At least that was the message sent by the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board (MVTAB) at a meeting held on Wednesday, July 9. The Board voted to approve a request from Clark County for a Waiver of Development Standards in connection with construction of the new Overton Senior Center; but not before some spirited discussion about the County being held to the same standards as anyone else.
The zoning request which was presented would allow the project to waive a portion of the required street improvements; including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and streetlights; which would have been associated with the Senior Center project. But this waiver only covered areas of the parcel that are not adjacent to the senior center site.
“We are not asking for improvements on the entire site to be waived,” said Travis Johnston, who was representing the County at the meeting. “We will be providing full off-site improvements along Cooper Street and along Moapa Valley Blvd in the areas adjacent to the building site.”
Johnston explained that the need for the waiver request hadbeen brought on by a new application for a parcel map. This application would take in the entire county complex including the Senior Center, Community Center, Fire Department, Metro substation and Justice Court. The parcel map also would include a strip of undeveloped land just to the north of these buildings.
The new parcel map was needed because some old boundary lines were found that would run through the middle of the new Senior Center building, Johnston said. The new parcel map would dissolve those old lines and allow for the building to be completed.
The law, however, requires full off-site improvements around the entire parcel if development is done on any part of the parcel. Furthermore, NDOT now requires a widening of the highway by an additional 15 feet in front of the Community Center. Without the waiver, the county would be required to rip up the existing sidewalk improvements in front of the community center and replace it again in a new spot, Johnston said.
“Since we are not developing or improving those portions of the site, it doesn’t seem necessary to provide full off-sites at this time there,” Johnston said. “We are asking for approval with the condition that the improvements be made when those areas are developed in the future.”
MVTAB Rik Eide expressed some hesitancy in granting a waiver that would beautify and improve the look of the area. “First of all you are building something that probably 85% of the community didn’t want in the first place,” said Eide. “You’ve put high walls around it and built the building with its back to the community. It has already degraded the look of the area. In view of that, I don’t know why we’d want to waive anything that would help to beautify the street in that area.”
Board members also were worried about the double standard that might be perceived in granting a waiver to the county that other developers might not receive. “If this were a development in the private sector, all of these things would have to be adhered to and the full off-sites would be required,” said Guy Doty.
“We have a commissioner out here that is adamantly opposed to waivers of any kind,” added Eide. “We’ve had people come in for miniscule waivers and they have had to fight over them and gotten no support from the commissioner because he doesn’t like waivers. Now here comes the county asking for waivers. Let’s see how he likes it in his backyard.”
But MVTAB member Gene Houston said that these types of waivers had been made in the past for entities that were improving only part of their parcel. “I know for a fact that we have allowed the water district and the power district to do full offsites just in front of their buildings and then deferred further improvements until later,” Houston said. “We have done that for several applicants but now, because we are ticked off at the county, we are saying that we’ll teach them a lesson here and require them to do something that other people don’t have to do.”
“I’m not really concerned about making decisions based on whether it will make a certain commissioner happy or not,” said MVTAB Chairwoman, Judy Metz. “It should be based on what is right for the project and right for the community.”
Metz stated that she had come into the meeting with the idea that the board shouldn’t approve any waivers at all in this case. But when she learned that the whole matter was just a result of a small parcel map change to make one contiguous property, she admitted that it was a different matter altogether.
Houston agreed. “We would look at anyone else and we would say, in the future at such time as you develop you will be required to do full offsites,” he said. “We have been able to defer those areas with other applicants. Now this is exactly the same thing.”
Metz made a motion to approve the request on the condition that improvements be required in the future when development of those areas take place. The motion passed with a 3-1 vote; Metz, Houston and Eide were in favor, Doty was opposed.