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RPC considers alternative parking surfaces

The Pahrump Regional Planning Commission last week recommended county commissioners pass a bill granting alternatives to paving parking lots and eliminating the separation requirements between residences and accessory buildings, but they wouldn’t vote on a bill exempting conditional use permits for hotels.

RPC Chairman John Keonig said the proposed bill allowing businesses to substitute different material to pave parking lots, like brick, natural stone, eco-blocks, interlocking pavers or porous asphalt instead of two-inch asphalt or a double layer of chip seal was a hot button issue. Owners required to install six or fewer parking spaces will be allowed to use a dust control palliative. Parking spaces conforming to the Americans with Disabilities Act must be firm and stable with a slip-resistant surface.

“Why can’t businesses come here? Because they have to asphalt their lots. I’m trying to help bring businesses here, contrary to popular belief,” Koenig said.

While big box retailers like Home Depot and Walmart have millions of dollars to pave parking lots, he said it’s costly for small business owners.

Interim Community Development Director Darrell Lacy said the requirement to pave parking lots came after the county signed a memorandum with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to control dust in Pahrump Valley, as an alternative to being listed as a non-attainment area for air pollution by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Deputy District Attorney Tim Sutton said that MOU expires at the end of this year. The county was supposed to have come into compliance with air quality standards on particulate matter by Dec. 31, 2009.

Lacy said businesses want to be allowed to have gravel parking lots, but larger lots like storage yards should be paved; he suggested the county “make baby steps” now until the MOU is modified.

“Their opinion is we do meet the national ambient air quality standards that’s required under the MOU with the exception of a few high wind events. However, they have to get approval from the EPA folks,” Lacy said. “NDEP is happy with what we’ve done.”

Owners of The Hubb, at 3720 W. Bell Vista Ave., were given a conditional use permit last April that allowed them to reopen the bar under grandfathered requirements that didn’t require a paved parking area. Nye County public works had requested the owners to pave 234 feet of Bell Vista Avenue and 253 feet of Stephanie Street with asphalt.

When Heath Campbell sold Heath’s Laff Factory in January to a new owner that operates as El Vaquero Mexican Restaurant, they inherited a grandfathered exemption to a paved parking lot.

But when Tynia Dickson was denied a conditional use permit for a new bumper boat business at 231 S. Frontage Rd., last July, the RPC said they couldn’t waive a paved parking lot requirement among other problems, Campbell offered to let them use his parking lot.

In another matter, Nye County Commissioner Butch Borasky made an impassioned plea to remove a requirement hotels need a conditional use permit in a general commercial zone, but to no avail, the RPC made no motion on the proposed bill.

Borasky asked why the permit was needed for projects like the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 160. A conditional use permit would still be required for a hotel built in a neighborhood commercial zone and for adult motels in a general commercial zone.

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