By Nicole Barde
I attended the Storey County Planning Commission meeting last night, July 16th, which was held in the Highlands at the community park. I have to say that I don’t typically attend the Planning meetings since I already attend several other County meetings and I sometimes suffer from meeting fatigue. I do however look at the agendas to determine if there is anything of interest that I should be learning about and have attended in the past. That being said the reason and the only reason I attended last night’s planning meeting was because of a post on the Highlands message list which was posted the day of the meeting. What got my attention was the line which stated “Yesterday I was notified that part of the discussions will include building a convenience store, tack and feed store and other “commercial stores” that the residents may want.”
What I read on the Planning meeting agenda, and has appeared for several Planning meeting agendas was:
Discussion Only/No Possible Action (Master Plan Amendments): Discussion and comments from the commission, staff, and public regarding existing and potential future land uses and development patterns in the county and its communities. Discussion will include a review of draft Master Plan Chapter 4 Land Uses. Public participation is encouraged. Copies of the master plan draft may be obtained from the Planning Department website at http://www.storeycounty.org/521/Updates, at 775.847.1144, or from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open meeting law aside, had it not been for the message list post providing detail about what was going to be discussed neither I nor any of the other Highlands residents would have attended. There were other people who wanted to attend after reading the post on the message list but didn’t have enough notice to arrange to do so.
First let me say that the amount of work that revising the Master Plan requires is nothing short of herculean. Additionally, getting people to come to the meetings and provide input on such an important document is equally daunting, people are busy. Austin Osborn and his team have done a great job of pulling the draft together and taking it out to the communities. However, I believe that they might find it easier to pull people in to these meetings if they provided some of the key issues that the plan contains for that particular community. The quality of communication for this particular meeting on this particular topic regarding the Highlands was totally lacking.
Austin commented that the Master Plan draft is on the website for anyone to read and that they have been holding these meetings for quite a while and so didn’t understand why there was surprise about the items in the Highlands portion of the Master Plan. The planning commissioners were genuinely happy to see so many residents at their meeting to discuss the Master Plan and commented that they don’t get much interest and attendance in the other communities. Well, the reason is either people just don’t care, or, people don’t know exactly what will be discussed that will directly affect them. It needs to be easy to receive or be notified of this information from a number of sources. If the Planning Commission clarified exactly what was going to be discussed and made sure that it got wide distribution maybe there would be better attendance. This is certainly the case whenever new SUP’s or other items of community interest regarding CMI are discussed. The VC and Gold Hill communities turn out in large numbers for that because the detail is known.
I think the attendance at last night’s planning meeting demonstrates that people, in the Highlands at least, do care but will only come out when they see that it will affect them directly but they need to know about it. It needs to be communicated in the right way and in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, now that we all know that the Master Plan contains valuable nuggets and possible grenades we all need to take the time to read it. The only thing that stands between us and being Californicated into oblivion this that Master Plan!