Lyon County currently does not have the means to justify enacting a building moratorium south of the Carson River to delay new development in Dayton, staff recently reported to the Board of Commissioners.
The county will not be able to halt or pause new housing or business development on the south side of the river due to the need to build a second bridge based on the county’s findings for potential fire risk, flooding risk and bridge capacity, Community Development Director Andrew Haskin told the board in a presentation Sept. 1.
However, County Manager Jeff Page said other options could be considered to address community concerns about burgeoning growth without imposing on property rights. Residents have approached the county seeking solutions to their storm drainage infrastructure and potentially building a second bridge, and developers have been frustrated about taking on increased fees or special assessments.
The commission held a special meeting in June reviewing options on two storm drainage master plans for Dayton Valley. County staff and Farr West Engineering experts outlined the $3 million project examining flooding hazards, hydraulic modeling and floodplain mapping. Storey County, the Carson Water Subconservancy District and engineering design company JE Fuller in Tempe, Ariz., contributed to a drainage master plan report and reviewed capital improvement options to help reduce runoff from future weather events.
But after community member feedback during the June meeting, Lyon County Commissioner Ken Gray asked for a presentation on the definition and legality of moratoriums, with residents asking what it would take for the county to stop awarding building permits in Dayton Valley.
Haskin came back to the commissioners on Sept. 1 and gave an overview on the scope of building moratoriums – broad, indefinite or targeted – other jurisdictions have authorized in the past. Although he felt a targeted moratorium might apply best in Lyon County’s situation, there are still legal and special considerations to bear in mind.
If flooding is the issue, Haskin used as an example, Lyon would not be permitted to restrict building across the Carson River. Planned developments, as well as the bridge, must be within the flood zone, and the county must provide evidence that properties are at an elevated flood risk. Haskin said staff must show Lyon is actively taking steps and demonstrate it is applying for grants and show it is rebuilding.
Senior planner Rob Pyzel also answered board questions and frustrations that the county is responsible for inspections to ensure developments would meet county codes and standards.
During the Sept. 1 meeting, Page said a proposed ordinance that would create a special assessment on storm drainage can help create a solution, but the county still has some issues to address, including addressing growth the right way. Lyon, now the third largest in Nevada in population, continually pays for its “sins of the past” as it catches up financially and politically from the 1970s.
“We still have a lot of that thought process to work out,” Page said. “How do we do growth the right way? Where do we put that growth? We have talent now with Andrew and his staff to fix some of those issues … but how do we control what is coming our way?”
Steve Parker, a local resident, said during public comment working together would be to everyone’s mutual benefit and that a moratorium should be the last strategy anyone should consider.
“The issue we have in the Dayton area is it doesn’t matter where you build your house or where you live,” Parker said. “There’s only way in or out to your house or to the schools. … But we have to have a positive ‘Let’s go solve the problem’ attitude, not ‘We’re going to get rid of those damn developers’ because it’s the damn developers that are going to solve the problems.’ And we’re going to have to get some Biden bucks to do it or we’re all going to be paying for it until hell freezes over. So there’s one way out of this, and it’s not separately. I’d rather move forward.”
Gray reminded the public the item was not for action.
“There’s not a moratorium on the table,” he said. “Andrew (Haskin) will tell you I’m in no way in favor of a moratorium. It would be bad for us and the community and bad for the taxpayers. This is simply a discussion.”
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