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Lot sizes, water rights relinquishment requirements amended in Amargosa Valley

After a months-long discussion, Nye County officials passed a bill that amended minimum lot sizes and water rights relinquishment requirements in Amargosa Valley.

The bill amended several chapters of Nye County Code with the exception of the Pahrump Regional Planning District. The measure is supposed to help the town to avoid water overappropriation.

Under new regulations, a minimum lot requirement for subdivisions is 2 ½ acres and five acres for subdivision parcels. The new ordinance sets a 2-acre-feet annual water rights relinquishment for all parcel maps in Amargosa Valley that don’t have zoning regulations.

“This ordinance change has been in the works for a couple of years, the new parcel maps in Amargosa Valley are for 5 acres but will not need to relinquish water rights under the old ordinance,” Nye County Water District General Manager Darrell Lacy said.

“We adopted ordinance changes several years ago that require a water relinquishment for every new parcel created in Pahrump and a five-acre minimum lot size for parcel maps. In Pahrump lot size for subdivision maps would be based on the zoning map, anywhere from 8,000 square feet to 10 acres,” Lacy said.

Amargosa Valley officials and Commissioner Lorinda Wichman were previously unable to get together to iron out some of the language of the agreement. Amargosa Valley Town Board member Trevor Dolby criticized the bill.

“This language permits the continuation of water rights speculation. Additionally, this language is an obstacle to balancing the water rights permitted or paper water rights in Basin 230,” he said.

Amargosa Valley Administrator Mike Cottingim asked Commissioner Lorinda Wichman to discuss the document.

“We need some clarification on this verbiage, so that we feel that we are being protected and protecting the water rights for our citizens,” he said.

Wichman said there isn’t anything in the document that will be harmful to Amargosa Valley, “just the opposite.”

“The language is to help preserve their larger parcel sizes and continue their farming community atmosphere,” she said.

Lacy said there are a few existing parcel maps for the area that had been accepted previously.

“Parcel maps are a quick and dirty way to create up to four lots from one larger parcel, this is done without utilities and road construction,” Lacy said. “Subdivision maps are a more formal process and require water, sewer and road infrastructure and state approval. Every lot that is larger than one acre can be built with a domestic well and septic system. With the water issues in Pahrump and Amargosa, this requirement for larger lot sizes reduces the number of future domestic wells but does not impact existing lots or homeowners.”

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