By BRIAN BURRIS
As I read the “From The Editor’s Desk” segment in the May 10 Progress entitled “An Open Letter to the MV Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors” I could not help but wonder how anyone could be so far off base about so much. In fact, how someone could be so certain about things that simply are not true is beyond my comprehension.
First let me address the fallacy that the lack of residential growth has destroyed small business in our amazing valley. This could not be farther from the truth. You see the same businesses had be surviving for many years on the traffic that called Overton Beach their home for on the water recreation. As they passed through town they would fuel up and stock up on everything from apples to anchovies and when supplies ran low they made a beeline for our business district to stock up to keep the good times rolling. Add to that that the fields were green and farms and ranches were abundant at one time. In fact, farming was so plentiful at one time that this valley had its own tractor dealer if I recall. First the farming slowed and as lake levels began to fall and water became scarcer in our state the big water district came in trying to shore up the supply for Vegas and offered more for the water than the farmers could ever earn harvesting crops. In turn the land and the revenue that that land brought to our local business shriveled like a prune tucked away in the back of the cupboard. As the lake continued to drop the closure of Overton beach decimated the tourism income as well. It was a one-two punch just waiting for the knockout blow that would come in the form of the decimation of the construction market that would in turn create the inability for many to make their next mortgage payment. The result would see a plummeting housing market and a foreclosure market that had devastating effects across the great state of Nevada. So, while the slowing housing market added to the problem it certainly was not the precipitating event.
Now we can move on to the issue of the housing development and the perceived economic boom town you seem to feel 80 homes will create. There has been a lot of talk of bringing family starter homes to the valley while the editor has in fact decided that the market is high earning young professionals. There are in fact issues with either side of this argument. First family starter homes are a far-off dream with the plan of this development for young families. When we look at the fact that they were calling for prices starting in the high 200s and the prospect of almost zero employment opportunity locally No young family would be able to swing buying in this development. If you look at the IRS standard Mileage deduction of $.54 per mile which takes into account the actual cost of driving it would cost around $18,000 a year to drive to Las Vegas for work. With no industry in the valley essentially every family would have this commute. That commute would easily increase their cost by $10,0000 per year and in 10 years that is $100,000 making living close to their employer a much more appealing option. Now maybe they were not the right market and we can peddle the wares of 1/3 acre lots on the “high earning young professionals”. Is there really any doubt what high earning young people desire? Is there any doubt to the allure that the brightest city in the world has for these people? Those that desire the things that the city has to offer will flock to our urban neighbors and those high earning people who desire a more wholesome life where they can escape the stress and constant action of the city will not be short of housing opportunities in our community. Lake valley Estates, Valley Heights and many other of these pipe dreams have empty lots begging for these individuals to create their dream home in the greatest community in the western United States.
I think the idea I find the most offensive however is the idea that the members in this community who choose to protect our rural lifestyle are somehow to blame for the erosion of our business community. The sentiment of this article is that those opposed to this development are opposed to all growth. Again, the author could not be farther off base in their assumptions. I for one, as a representative of this community, took into account all that this project brought to the table and was left wanting. First off, the fact that this project fails to actually integrate into this community should be of grave concern to the citizens. The owner of the property did not even see fit to grace our community with his presence which proves to me he knew he was not doing the best thing for our community. At this point I would remind the readers that the same developer proposed a non-conforming zone change a few months earlier and when the community came together and our county commissioner informed them she stood behind us they decided to shift the lots to try to slide in under the radar. It may just be my simple country boy mind but generally if I have to slip it under the radar it is just not the right thing to do.
This item eventually found its way to the agenda of the town board and was heard in front of the largest delegate of residents since I have been afforded the opportunity to serve the community on this board. The community was vocal about their desire to maintain the rural lifestyle that many of us cherish. Now for many this may make the decision before the board an easy one but for those of us serving on the board there is much more involved than community support for an item. I know personally I spent around 40 hours on this one issue to determine what was best for our community as a whole. This involved going through the entire Northeast Clark County Land Use Plan page by page. The Compliance with the land use plan map does not equate to compliance with the land use plan in my opinion. The development that you seem to see as the savior to the business community in our home in fact fails to fit the environment of the surrounding land. This is not to say that a development like this has no place in our valley but it certainly will cause contention for many years to come. You see there is a real live example of what happens when you base housing developments on what profit it brings to the land owner rather than if it fits the community. This example is an hour south in North Las Vegas where developers raked in huge returns selling land next to a pig farmer that had called his land home for many years. After many years of complaining and Mr Combs fighting for what is rightfully his Mr Combs was forced to sell because those that moved around him failed to fit the existing land use. This area of our valley will not be well served by having new and old neighbors fighting for the way of life each bought into.
You see the idea that those that stand to protect our way of life is a death sentence to our business community is an absolute ridiculous assumption. The fact of the matter is like many other I am in full support of managed growth. A growth that has given us a new pizza place, a new pet place, a few new clothing places, a Family dollar and soon a new manufacturing facility for sport climbing accessories all positioned where they fit within our community. The fact that the development in question fails to fit in fails to prove we are anti-business nor does it set the stage for developments in other areas of our valley.
I can tell you recently a community member contacted a major developer that has land holdings in our valley and they agreed this is not the time and they would never develop anything less than half acre lots as it would destroy the integrity of the Logandale community. So, if one of the biggest developers in Southern Nevada fails to see the up side to this type of development I would have to question your opinion. This is a rural community full of amazing people and we will never become anyone’s bedroom community no matter how much the owner of this paper claims to know about thing that just are not true.
As a representative for this community I will continue to represent the desires of this community and if I am failing to reach this goal I would certainly ask for the community to not allow me to maintain my position. If our elected officials fail to meet our needs it is our jobs a citizen to ensure those needs are met.
Brian Burris is a member of the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board where he has served since the beginning of this year.