By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
Residents of the Moapa Valley communities will have a unique opportunity in the next few weeks to give vital input into a process that can shape the future of the community. Clark County is about to begin a major update to its Land Use Plan document for the northeast rural communities. County staff is planning a series of public meetings to gather local input on the document before it goes to the Town Boards, and eventually the County Commission, for approval.
County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick is determined that everyone in the community has the chance to have a say in the process.
“The Commissioner wants to get the word out that this is an open process,” said Janice Ridondo, Kirkpatrick’s community liaison. “Now is your chance to tell us what you want. (Kirkpatrick) really wants the communities to be fully invested in this document and to own it when it is finished.”
Ridondo said that the Commissioner’s office receives phone calls regularly from local residents who complain about some detail in land use planning that they don’t like; or something that, they feel, doesn’t make sense.
“Now is the time to try to address those things,” Ridondo said. “This is your chance to make changes. We want to hear from everyone and anyone who has a problem or a viewpoint on something. I will go door to door if I have to, to get people’s input. But in the end, folks need to understand: when the process is done, you don’t get to call and complain if you have not been part of the process.”
The Land Use Plan is the document that guides all development and zoning decisions in the area. It is updated by the county every five years.
In the Plan, every parcel in the community is assigned a land use category. These categories give a general determination of where different uses are appropriate in a community. Certain areas might be set aside for agricultural land, industrial uses, commercial development, residential projects and more.
Each of the categories have a range of densities or intensities of use. For example, a Residential Rural category is designated for having no more than one dwelling on two acres. Other residential categories frequently found in Moapa Valley include Residential Agricultural (1 unit per acre), Rural Neighborhood (up to 2 units per acre) and Residential Low (3.5 units per acre).
Ridondo points out that the Land Use Designation does not automatically change the current zoning status on the property. If a developer wants to build a project that maximizes a density designated by the Land Use Plan, but the current zoning on the property doesn’t allow for that density, he must still apply to the town board and commissioners for a zone change, Ridondo said. Such a request would be considered as a conforming zone change because it conforms to the Land Use Plan.
But those conforming changes are not necessarily just automatically granted without discussion, Ridondo said. “Just having a Land Use designation doesn’t guarantee that a specific parcel would be approved for a particular zoning to allow that use in the future,” Ridondo said. “It will be up to the developer to show, through sound land use planning and design, that approval of a density up to the maximum in the Land Use Plan is warranted.”
If, on the other hand, a developer is seeking a density that is higher than what is designated in the Land Use Plan, a nonconforming zone change would be required. Ridondo said that these will be few and far between for Kirkpatrick.
“One thing that the Commissioner has made very clear is that she is not a fan of nonconforming zone changes,” Ridondo said. “She feels like when the community goes to all that trouble of giving input into this detailed Land Use Plan, it shouldn’t be changed lightly.”
That is why the upcoming public input meetings are so vital to the process, Ridondo added. At the meetings, large maps of each neighborhood will be available for review. Residents can mark up the maps to reflect the changes that they feel should be made.
“It is important for people to remember that this process is only dealing with land use and zoning,” Ridondo said. “It has nothing to do with flood control or roads or anything else that people might be concerned about. All of those things are important and have other processes where they can provide input. But this is the Land Use process, so comments should stick to that.”
In an attempt to better focus the process, Kirkpatrick has decided to divide up the lower valley community into two separate meetings: one for Logandale and one for Overton. The Logandale meeting will focus on parcels north of the Lou Jean alignment precinct boundary. The Overton meeting will focus on everything south of that.
“The (Logandale/Overton division) is well intentioned,” Ridondo said. “The commissioner feels that people should have input into the areas that most nearly affect their neighborhood. So there are separate meetings for the residents of each. For those that live right on the border, they are welcome to attend both meetings.”
After the public input meetings, county staff will create a draft version of the Plan which will be presented to the Town Advisory Boards for approval. Then the approved version will go before the County Commission for final approval.
Ridondo emphasized that Kirkpatrick is committed to respecting the recommendations of the town boards. “She is going to follow what the towns say,” she said. “She has said that it is going to be a chilly day in a very warm place that we know of before she goes against the town boards.”
The meetings are scheduled for the first week of November. The Logandale meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 7 at 5-8 pm at the Old Logandale School. The Overton meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 8 at 5-8 pm in the Overton Community Center. A meeting in Moapa is also being scheduled. Keep an eye on the PROGRESS for the date and time of that meeting.
All residents of each community are encouraged to attend their applicable meeting.