Planning commissioners’ only agenda: serving the public | Mike Lawson, Planning Commissioner Washoe District 2

Michael W. Lawson Published 11:00 a.m. PT Oct. 23, 2018
ButlerRanch110106D.jpg
Cows wander the Butler Ranch across the canal from the Heron’s Landing development on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006. Floodwaters from the New Year’s Eve flood from last year filled the area, leaving only the tops of the fence posts showing.(Photo: David B. Parker/RGJ File)
 
Dear Washoe County commissioners, 
I understood that you appointed me to the Planning Commission based on my 40 years as a professional planner and my desire to serve our community. I told Commissioner Lucey that I was an advocate for thoughtful growth and that I had volunteered to serve because of the irresponsible growth I was witnessing in the region. He said he shared my views, but his recent votes to overturn several Planning Commission denials of irresponsible development belie that statement. You have voted to approve development regardless of flood risk, traffic congestion, degradation of existing neighborhoods, noncompliance with area plans and other legitimate concerns. 
On July 24, you claimed that planning commissioners have individual agendas and are not qualified to rule on matters of growth. You contend that because you are elected, you have greater legitimacy in judging issues of development than the planning commissioners you have appointed. Your background is largely in real estate and hardly compares to the planning and development experience embodied by the Planning Commission. We have no agenda other than to serve the people we represent. We are not the recipients of campaign contributions from builders, developers and special interests. I have prepared and reviewed hundreds of engineering reports for both private and public entities. I am intimately familiar with how data can be represented to make a case to suit a client. My objectivity is not somehow diminished for being appointed. 
My colleagues on the commission are experienced, thoughtful and learned individuals invested in their duties to scrutinize all reports for validity and for compliance with area plans. You commissioners accept all applicant reports as legitimate, yet these are vetted by a staff that is directed to assist the developer in getting approval. Most egregiously, you contend area plans are irrelevant. While property owners have a legitimate right to develop their properties, they are properly required to conform to existing plans and codes. Homeowners have the ultimate “investment-backed expectation” that their property values and neighborhood character will be defended by the county. 
You may claim that new development is needed to solve existing traffic, flooding and other problems, but have offered no fiscal analysis to support this. To the contrary, RTC has reported that developer fees only pay 25 percent of the cost that new developments impose on them. It appears that taxpayers are subsidizing the developments that are despoiling their neighborhoods. 
This letter is to notify you that I will continue to work with our citizens, county staff and applicants to ensure they all understand that all applications must comply with area plans and existing zoning. As elected officials, you should be promoting the interests of your constituents. Impugning the character of those of us who truly serve our community on the Planning Commission will not go unanswered. 
Michael W. Lawson is a Washoe County planning commissioner.

8 thoughts on “Planning commissioners’ only agenda: serving the public | Mike Lawson, Planning Commissioner Washoe District 2

  1. I refuse to vote for Wolgast as he is a liberal democrat from Berkley California. We don’t need that kind of representation in Nevada. Vote for Lucey. At least you know what you’ve got with him. Wolgast, well, you have no idea what he will do given the chance. California is a joke due to liberal politics. Don’t bring them here.

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    • Well Mike you have stated the facts about Lucy and his ability to accomplish nothing other than meet the developers commands. As for David whoever he is. He is a misinformed moron.

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      • David is our precious resident troll who never bothers to actually read the posts; which is too bad, because if he really wanted to help his “hero” lucey, he could offer serious counter-arguments to the topics at hand on this site instead of the stock neo-con phraseology. It’s too bad people like this exist, never opening their minds to many different points of view, or providing political discourse based on intelligence, information and insight.

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  2. #response_container_BBPPID{font-family: initial; font-size:initial; color: initial;} Bravo!! Sent from my BlackBerry – the most secure mobile device From: comment-reply@wordpress.comSent: October 23, 2018 12:16 PMTo: dalysafe@gmail.comReply-to: comment+e1-08n6zu60tjs1f9jga5xxg@comment.wordpress.comSubject: [New post] Planning commissioners’ only agenda: serving the public | Mike Lawson, Planning Commissioner Washoe District 2 #ssc16590 a:hover{color: red;}#ssc16590 a{text-decoration: none;color: rgb(0, 136, 204);}#ssc16590 a.primaryactionlink:link,#ssc16590 a.primaryactionlink:visited{background-color: rgb(37, 133, 178);color: rgb(255, 255, 255);}#ssc16590 a.primaryactionlink:hover,#ssc16590 a.primaryactionlink:active{background-color: rgb(17, 114, 158) !important;color: rgb(255, 255, 255) !important;}

    Kris Hemlein posted: “Michael W. Lawson Published 11:00 a.m. PT Oct. 23, 2018

    Cows wander the Butler Ranch across the canal from the Heron’s Landing development on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006. Floodwaters from the New Year’s Eve flood from last year filled the area, le”

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  3. Dear Mr. Lawson.  This is a very detailed and issues defined report that only leaves out how the egregious positions taken by responsible parties resulting in area sprawl and also begs the question if and how this can be stopped by the aggrieved residents like we, who came to Reno and settled in the Virginia Foothills in 1973 Many thanks for your eloquent comments and your willingness to be of service for the citizens of Washoe County and calling a spade a spade. -John.  John D. Busse, Virginia Foothills.   

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  4. Are county planning staff only to help projects get approved quickly, or to determine if they are in conformance with current code? Do they have capacity to analyze data, and conclusions, presented in traffic and drainage reports?
    Should independent technical review of projects by experts not under the influence of the County or Planning commissioners be considered? Yes, it will be a challenge for those reviewers to comprehensively understand the context of a project, but not any more than engineers who bring those proposal forward. Such review can be accomplished using consultants, rotated, so an institution is not created.
    The strength of the planning commission is to provide a different perspective into projects that will affect our community. Having experience on the (currently disbanded) Washoe County Design Review Committee, I have seen the importance of outside perspectives.

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