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.