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RPC suggests easing rules on guest residences

Amputee Kevin Simpson Sr. sat in his wheelchair Wednesday evening waiting for the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission to recommend changes to Nye County Code that will allow his son to build him a guest cottage behind his home at 3941 N. Blagg Rd.

After a long, convoluted argument, in which two motions to adopt the bill with or without amendments failed, the RPC reopened the item and recommended county commissioners pass 2014-08 allowing guest residences as permissive uses in two village residential zones, VR-10 and VR-20, which are minimum 10,000 net square foot and 20,000 net square foot lot sizes respectively intended for moderate density uses with public utilities usually provided.

Guest residences are already allowed in the RE-1, RE-2, RH-4.5 and RH 9.5 zoning districts. Applicants don’t have to appear before the RPC for permissive uses in a zone.

The bill allows guest residences not to exceed 1,500 square feet. RPC member Bob King, a former county planner, thought a 1,500-square-foot guest residence, along with a house, garage and accessories could pack too much into a lot.

He suggested a graduated scale with smaller guest residences permitted in the VR-10 zone. King’s original motion also asked to limit the total buildings to 40 percent of the lot size, but there was no second.

Simpson was also asking for a waiver on side setback requirements from 10 feet to five feet to build a 600-square-foot guest residence. Otherwise he said the cost of modifying his manufactured home to be handicapped accessible would be too expensive.

The guest residence is being funded by a grant through the Veterans Administration, Kevin Simpson Jr. said he had been working with the VA for almost a year trying to get assistance. He wants just a little dwelling, with a handicapped-accessible bathroom that’s safe and a little area for recreation.

“This is merely just an area for him to have a lot of independence if he wanted to be able to do his own thing,” Kevin Simpson Jr. said. “It’s the smallest we can go. I didn’t want to put my dad into a shed. It’s 590 square feet, smaller than a garage.”

In other business, the RPC voted to recommend county commissioners approve a bill allowing residences located in commercial or industrial zones that are grandfathered into existing regulations to be expanded without a conditional use permit.

Planners said adding the accessory buildings, like garages and storage sheds, as well as expanding homes to add patio covers and decks in those zones has minimal impact on the general public and adjacent property owners. If the owner converts them to non-residential use they have to comply with regulations like paved parking lots, current building codes and electrical codes.

Grandfathering regulations were already loosened to allow including an adjacent lot of the same size, up to five acres, to be a grandfathered use after Two Brothers Junk in Johnnie expanded into an adjoining, unpaved lot that wasn’t grandfathered in.

RPC Chairman John Koenig said, “I was always told the purpose of a grandfathered, whatever, is eventually we would want that (use) to go away and the area would eventually be used for what it was zoned for.”

King said a lot of properties in Pahrump were incorrectly zoned after a study by Hogle Ireland consultants in 2007 led to the first zoning map.

The RPC also recommended adoption of a bill that will set up a process for individuals to appeal an administrative staff level decision on land use. The owner could appeal the decision to the zoning administrator, Planning Director Bobby Lewis, after that it could be appealed to the RPC and the county commission.

The RPC didn’t vote on a recommended code change that would have allowed a hotel or motel to be built in a general commercial, visitor commercial or neighborhood commercial zone as a permissive use. Kanab Holdings Ltd. had to appear before the RPC to get permission to a build a 102-room Holiday Inn Express in a general commercial zone at 881 S. Highway 160.

Koenig had problems over the lack of a public hearing.

“Do you believe they should be able to build a hotel, motel anywhere they want and the public has nothing to say about it?” he asked.

King didn’t think hotels would be appropriate in neighborhood commercial districts, meant for smaller businesses on less heavily traveled arterial streets. RPC member Greg Hafen II said it wouldn’t be a good business plan to locate a hotel in those neighborhoods. Lewis said things like supermarkets and bed and breakfasts are allowed as permissive uses in neighborhood commercial zones, he said they will still have to undergo a site development plan review.

“It’s not like willy-nilly, they can just do whatever they want,” he said.

The RPC tabled until May 14 an application for a CUP for a commercial kennel housing German shepherds and Huskies in trailers at 2251 W. Blosser Ranch Road to allow the applicants, Alan Salcido and Carl Grubb, time to discuss needed improvements.

Adjoining property owner Rich Lauver complained about the continuance and said he shouldn’t have to file a code compliance complaint. Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue recommended cutting off power in the kennels until an electrician can inspect the wiring, which was described as a possible fire hazard.

Nye County Animal Control officer Susan Ryhal said there was no secondary floor covering for proper cleaning as required in the Animal Control Ordinance. Pahrump Building and Safety reported there were structural modifications built onto the manufactured homes without building permits, engineered plans or a licensed contractor in violation of state law.

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