Growth Task Force

INTRO: The Clark County Growth Task Force whittled down a year's worth of discussion yesterday. It's recommendations are designed to guide the county on how to manage growth. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

MEETING: I am going to start by going around the room and asking you what your top three priorities are.

PLASKON: The 17 member Clark County Growth Task force has worked all year, listening to presentations and now come up with 21 recommendations. Today it voted on each one. The goal was to come up with just 3 over the next two meetings by the end of March.

MEETING: Does any of this surprise you? Do I need a drum roll?

PLASKON: The 21 priorities were voted down to 5. The top concern was affordable housing with the recommendation to streamline and reduce the cost of compliance with permits for builders. Also examine the effects of costs of construction defect litigation, and implement bonuses for builders to increase density. Second, the task force wants more mixed use development and recommended amending building codes throughout the valley implementing incentives to builders for mixed-use development. Third, encourage builders to fill in the empty lots around the valley, by establishing a special county permitting and licensing team for developers with infill lots. The fourth and fifth priorities were to encourage mass transit and prioritize infrastructure development. None of this surprised Seve Hill President of Silver State Materials Corporation and Member of the Board of Directors of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

Support comes from

HILL: No after talking about things for a year it would be disappointing if we had a surprise.

PLASKON: He's confident the county commission will pursue these recommendations. But there was a disappointment for Jane Feldman, Conservation Chair for the Southern Nevada Sierra Club and one of only two Growth Task force members representing the conservation community.

FELDMAN: I was so disappointed that I looked at my top four and none of them are in the natural resource area and I am supposed to represent the natural resource community but the urban issues just so overwhelmed the environmental issues that it was really hard for me and I imagine that it was really hard for other people too.

PLASKON: Feldman and the other conservation focused member Alan O'neill of the Outside Las Vegas Foundation did get some second tier natural resources recommendations. One item that had been removed was a recommendation that the county develop a comprehensive plan for implementing trails and parks in natural areas across the whole valley. Hill and Oneill said they weren't sure why that item had been removed.

HILL: In fact I was not real clear on how that item was removed."

PLASKON: Some of the task force voted to add it back in as part of a list of secondary recommendation that aren't the highest priority.

MEETING: Show of hands for yes, one two three four five.

PLASKON: Conservation members did win as a top priority encouraging mass transit. The county has already been on that path however and Oneill says a decision last week is a thorn in the wheel of mass transit for the valley.

ONEILL: It was a little disappointing to see that the city of Henderson turned down the concept along the union pacific, because I think these are critically important to our community."

PLASKON: While the Task Force is wrapping up its recommendations over the next two weeks, O'neill expects the problems of growth will need ongoing solutions.

ONEILL: That is one of the recommendations that I was pushing for at UNLV was a sustainability institute at UNLV because our community has never on a continuous basis looked at growth if we had a continuing institute that is charged with that on a day to day basis and would put that in front of the commission, we wouldn't have to go back to this every ten years. Ideas coming out of the sustainability institute that the commission can enact.

PLASKON: But that didn't make it into the recommendations and in fact the Task Forces still hasn't defined what sustainable growth is yet says Hill.

HILL: Well it is part of our vision statement. There is some sense that sustainable needs to be defined so that we know what we mean when we say it.

PLASKON: Hill expects this week the Task Force will compile a list of proposed definitions of sustainability. Without it he says the County will be able to define sustainability when interpreting the recommendations of the Task Force.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

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Wednesday, March 9, 2005

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