Autumn Wood Proposed Development – Incompetence or Corruption?

Phase2PublicHearingAutumn Wood Site Map

Post by guest writer Whitney Freeman, concerned Washoe resident

Incompetence or Corruption?

Either way, the residents of Washoe County pay the price. WRAP continues to give voice to concerned citizens. in the many cases in Washoe County where elected officials and paid Washoe County staff do not adequately consider existing Master Plans and existing residents safety when reviewing development applications. Yet again, another development seems to be receiving “special consideration.”

Major development in already congested area at the bottom of Zolezzi and in direct conflict with the Thomas Creek Southwest Character Management Plan:

Autumn Wood, Phase 1 – originally approved in 2006 on land zoned LDU b/c what existed on the parcel previously was a very rural mobile home park. Fast forward to 2010, the Master Plan is adopted and Low Density Urban (LDU) isn’t even an allowed regulatory zone, yet somehow the development plan receives another 8 years of extensions requested by the owner of the parcel. How is it possible that a Washoe County Planner reviews the request and finds that “the development plan is consistent with the Master Plan”? How can 47 dwelling units be consistent with a neighborhood composed entirely of single family detached homes and rural farm lands? How can LDU zoning exist when it isn’t allowed in our master plan? How can the vision and character management of the area be completely ignored? Incompetence or corruption….

Autumn Wood, Phase 2 – D.R. Horton, while in the process of purchasing the Phase 1 parcel, submits an application to amend the Master Plan so that they can develop the second parcel at an increased density, again, in conflict with the Medium Density Suburban (MDS)regulatory zone placed on the parcel. Over 200 neighbors, and Mountain View Montessori (MVM, the school adjacent to the property) oppose this application and D.R. Horton pulls the application. Despite stating that it wouldn’t make financial sense for his company to purchase the land if they cannot build at the increased density, Tom Warley proceeds with the purchase of the land. We suspect the purchase was made for two reasons: 1) they realized that one side of the TMWA water easement they would need for their development existed on that land 2) they also realized that they had to redirect the water from the ditch that would run along the front of Phase 1. Which brings me to another question: how did the Phase 1 development get approved in the first place if the ditch is being redirected to the separate/back lot – owned by a separate entity – The Catholic Bishop?

The parcel that they want to build Phase 2 on is zoned Medium Density Suburban and is limited to 3 dwelling units, single family detached, per acre in the Master Plan. I read that to mean – 3 houses allowed on each acre. What D.R. Horton is trying to push through (under our noses!) is actually 16 houses on only approx. 1.94 acres; they are using two thirds of the 5.83 acre parcel for the detention ponds (remember they have to send the water from the ditch that was on the first lot somewhere). They couldn’t get the application to amend the master plan through, so how are they getting this approved? They are requesting to reduce the required side yard setback from 8 feet to 0 feet so that the houses can share a common wall – thus creating ATTACHED townhomes! How is it possible that Washoe County Planner, Roger Pelham (interestingly – on vacation until July 2), thinks this application is in compliance with the Master Plan? Incompetence or corruption……

There are many other issues with this proposed development, but these are the major and obvious concerns that should be handled by 1) the PAID Washoe County staff and, 2) the ELECTED county commissioners – this is Bob Lucey’s District.  This is yet another example of poor planning and corrupt land development practices.

WHO TO CONTACT: We recommend that you put your concerns in writing….and request a face to face meeting if possible!

ELECTED COUNTY COMMISSIONER FOR THE AREA – up for re-election I might add:

Bob Lucey: 775-328-2012



Roger Pelham, MPA, Senior Planner


**While he is conveniently out of office until July 2 (date of public hearing) emails are still encouraged

Roger’s Planning Commission Staff Report:


Digging Deeper

It looks like the developers are still digging the County into a hole in Lemmon Valley.  They are presenting a tentative map proposal before the Washoe County Planning Commission on July 3 at 6:30PM at the county complex at Wells and Ninth.  The next development is called Prado Ranch North which includes 490 homes on lots ranging from 1/8 to 1/2 acre.  See this LINK  and LINK for more details.

This basin centered on Swan Lake has been flooded for over a year.  New development only means more flood hazard since the paving increases runoff and the treated waste water (sewage) ends up in Swan Lake increasing the flooding for adjacent properties.  The developer is proposing retention ponds to offset the runoff, but given the nature of the subsurface rock, there is little percolation so that the ponds could stay filled from year to year defeating their purpose.

Show solidarity with the neighborhoods all over the county.  The only chance to stop such poor development anywhere is to fight it everywhere.  Put it on your calendar.

Blockchain Center

The company, Blockchains LLC, have purchased 67,000 acres in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.  They have opened a new center remodeled from an existing building.  They plan to hire 1,000 employees by 2021.   It is not clear how they plan to use the land they’ve acquired.  The corporation did not get tax breaks, but were attracted by a recent law prohibiting the taxation of blockchain and crypto-currency.  See the Nevada Independent article.


Sierra Reflections in limbo

The 1438 unit Sierra Reflections development between 395 and 580 in Steamboat is on hold.  The developer’s approval for the project will expire in 2020 if the final map is not submitted and approved by then.  Work cannot proceed until the final map has been submitted and the County’s conditions of acceptance have been met.  But, the County has been hearing from a developer who may want to proceed soon (Trevor Lloyd).  Look for details and the complete plan submission to the County on the Washoe Developments page.  LINK

Also, take a look at “In the Media”.  This page gets the most frequent updates with articles and opinion pieces found that relate to development.  LINK

CAB Comes Through

The South Valleys Citizens Advisory Board showed once again that they faithfully represent the interests of neighbors and residents in contrast to the Planning Commission and County Commission that consistently favor the developers.

The meeting opened with several residents expressing their opposition to the Washoe County Lands Bill as drafted.  This may have been due to the fact that Commissioner Lucey had planned to come to speak about the bill, but later cancelled.

The principal application before the Board was a development called The Estates at Marango Springs.  This 80 acre development is along the Toll Road in the Geiger Grade area.  The application was to change the zoning from several types of rural to all low-density suburban (1 dwelling per acre).  The existing zoning, consistent with the South Valleys Plan, permits up to 11 dwellings on these 80 acres.  The new zoning would permit 80 dwellings at the far end of Toll Rd.  This application was just to change the zoning and make an amendment to the South Valleys Plan to permit the higher density.  There is no tentative map showing the individual lots, connecting roads and utilities.  But, this is the crucial step.  If the rezoning is approved, then the higher density development is permitted with it’s flood risk, increased traffic, and related problems.  The residents present expressed the following concerns.

  • Runoff drainage and erosion are a problem.  It will get worse with more development.
  • Fire evacuation from Toll Rd was terrible during the 2003 wildfire.  It will be much worse with 80 more homes.
  • The developer, Fry, has a history of not fulfilling his obligations on other developments.
  • There is no water available to support 80 more homes.
  • The South Valleys Plan took five years to develop.  It’s the best template for responsible development and should be adhered to.
  • Washoe County admitted that they only had 2 code inspectors for the entire county.  There’s no confidence that compliance would be enforced.

Two staffers from the Washoe County Planning Department were present.  They argued that residents should trust the developer and the County to have a good plan when the county’s conditions were applied to the developer’s design.  Residents laughed in derision.  One resident pointed out that such a proposal must have an impact report submitted with it per the South Valleys Area Plan.  The staffers admitted there was no such report.  One resident challenged “Has the planning department ever turned down a development plan?”  The staffers struggled to think of a single case.  The response “Lemmon Valley Drive”.  There is no development by that name.  The Lemmon Valley Heights project was approved by the planning staff.  So, they couldn’t think of a single denial.  Ponder that.

Due to a “severe credibility problem” the motion was made to “reject this proposal lock, stock, and barrel”.  The motion carried unanimously.

More information: LINK

Reno’s just as bad

Thursday night, the Reno Planning Commission approved another high-density housing development in Lemmon Valley called Silver Dollar Estates. The plan is for 624 dwelling units on 92 acres of mixed detached homes, duplexes, and townhomes. Unbelievable! Commissioner Marshall’s voice of reason was drowned out by the others in a 5-1 vote despite his carefully reasoned arguments and probing questions. He also asked a key question “How do we get an aggregate number for the impact of these projects on the schools?”

He explained clearly how the new development would increase flooding around Swan Lake since waste water (sewage) effluent will flow to Swan Lake after treatment at the Reno-Stead plant. This was the reason for his “no” vote. The second contributor to flooding, rainwater runoff, will be captured in a catch basin as part of the development. Water captured in the basin may be there all year since there is little percolation through the granite layer below the surface. By the second year, the catch basin will likely overflow contributing more water for flooding. Commissioner Marshall let a couple of issues go which demonstrated the sloppy or misleading nature of the application. The Washoe County School representative could not explain why the O’Brien Middle School utilization was unchanged at 99% with the new development. He guessed it might increase to 104% and the Commission accepted his guess. Shouldn’t the Planning Commission work with credible facts? The Reno Civil Engineer couldn’t confirm that the traffic would not increase on I-395 beyond acceptable levels. Her machinations brought a scornful laugh from the attendees. Neither the school capacity nor the traffic increase issues were enough to disqualify the project. The supporters on the commission were optimistic that the flooding hazard would be addressed before the new development was built. It looks like gambling trumps engineering in city hall.