On Your Side: How do you want Washoe County to grow, what services should be improved?

On Your Side: How do you want Washoe County to grow, what services should be improved?

Washoe County wants to know how it should evolve over the next twenty years and officials are asking for your input. The county is ready to make decisions based on the community's answers on two surveys.

"We are definitely going to use this data to drive major policy decisions," said Mojra Hauenstein, the Washoe County Director of Planning and Building. "We need to hear from them."

The county hasn't done something like this before. It's asking residents to take the surveys to know how to spend taxpayer money and on what. You can chime in on everything from jobs, housing and roads. The surveys focus on only Washoe County, not within the city limits of Reno or Sparks.

"(Residents) are driving the new update for Washoe County regional plan and also for the Master Plan which will happen early next year," said Hauenstein.

The county looks much different than it did twenty years ago. Much of the land surrounding the metro area was agricultural and undeveloped. Fast forward two decades and unincorporated Washoe County now has about 130,00 people and still growing specifically in the North Valleys, south of Reno and near Spanish Springs, north of Sparks.

School bus driver Janell Whitehouse who lives in the North Valleys said the county should have bigger roads.

"As a driver, it's tough on the roads especially coming from the North Valleys going into town and they're talking about building more houses and everything out here, the freeway can't handle the traffic we have now," Whitehouse said.

She would also like to see more affordable housing.

The survey asks people what should be a high priority, like flood control, law enforcement response times or parks.

"We need more infrastructure. They keep putting more houses out here, more warehouses out here and neglecting the infrastructure. It's ridiculous," said Ken Gerlits a Washoe County resident.

The survey has an interactive page that gives people a limited budget to spend. People place gold coins on a service where they want improvements. Residents can also tell the county what kind of housing it should allow-- condos, ranches, apartments, more single family-homes or a mix. The county code currently caps the number of dwellings at 5 per acre. So the code would have to be changed if the county wanted to allow apartments for example.

Hauenstein said the county paid $2,500 to post the survey on its website. Hauenstein plans to have results from the survey by the middle of June and will help drive the direction of growth of the next twenty years.

"There hasn't been a fundamental re-write of the vision and the intent, which is what we're asking of the community, in over 15 years," she said.

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