The developers were right.  They would get a more favorable hearing from the Board of County Commissioners than from the Citizen’s Advisory Boards and the Planning Commission.  Those bodies are now rightfully skeptical of both the developer-funded engineering reports and the Planning Department Staff reports.

The meeting started at 10:00 AM.

ROUND-1: Homeowners vs Autumn Woods-II (duplex development on Zolezzi Lane).  Time 1:45 PM

This is an unusual development of duplexes in an area zoned for Medium Density Suburban (MDS).  There are expected problems with traffic given the Montessori School on the one side and the big apartment development a few blocks away.  The property floods frequently from Whites Creek or from a tributary.  The Planning Commission primarily denied it because it is not compatible with the neighborhood.  Commissioner Lucey asked if the developer would be willing to pave Jeppson Lane past their driveway to the length of the property.  The developer said no.

  • Seventy-five residents wrote in opposition to the appeal.
  • How will the detention ponds be maintained? What if the HOA fails?  There is no access road to the detention ponds that will handle heavy equipment.
  • One neighbor echoed the developer’s argument that they had an “investment-backed expectation to get their way.” Don’t the homeowners and taxpayers have an “investment-backed” expectation that the character of their neighborhood be preserved?
  • Appellant lawyer John Compotic (sp?) said the county staff were experts and not aligned to make it easier for developers. This was met with derision in the audience.  He went on to say the Planning Commission’s decision seemed arbitrary.
  • Representatives of the Montessori school requested solid fencing or a wall so that residents would not be able to see the children.

The Planning Commission had denied 7-0 with prejudice.  They saw many unresolved issues.  The Citizen’s Advisory Board had already denied it twice.  The county commissioners accepted the appeal 4-0 (Commissioner Jung was not present).

ROUND-2: Homeowners vs Lemmon Drive Estates, 98 lots  … Time 3:15 PM

These are urban lots; some as small as 6000 sqft.  Side setbacks to be 5’ with front and back setbacks to be 10’.  It’s another plan that will contribute to flooding in a flooded area and add traffic to a distressed highway.  One egregious aspect is the major grading done by the developer without a permit and with the plan denied by the Planning Commission.  In another county, the developer would be ordered to restore the property to its earlier condition and be fined.  But there’s little appetite to enforce compliance against developers in Washoe.  He will be asked to move a couple of the large rocks so that the illegal grading doesn’t pose a new flood hazard to the neighbors.  With this issue and the developer’s travel plans, he asked for a continuance on the hearing of his appeal.  Public input included:

  • “The commissioners are not fulfilling their contract of employment.”
  • “The commissioners need to understand it’s an issue of integrity.”
  • “The primary school is dilapidated, unsanitary with disintegrating asbestos panels.”
  • “Lemmon Valley Drive is frightening to drive on.”
  • “There is no police (Sheriff) presence to control speeding on the damaged road.”
  • “It’s time to consider the ‘M-Word’, moratorium for North Valley development. There is no responsible way to approve new development.”

There was a lot of discussion of the problems of Lemmon Valley before the District Attorney reminded the commissioners that their only choice was to deny or accept the appeal.  They voted 4-0 to grant a continuance till their next meeting “next Tuesday”.  This is the outcome the developer wanted.  There is no future meeting on the county website calendar.

ROUND-3: Homeowners vs Prado Ranch North (Lemmon Valley Drive at Deodar) … Time 4:15 PM

It makes no more sense than the other plans to develop in a flooded area.  The arguments are both compelling and depressingly familiar.  Commissioner Herman made the point “This plan doesn’t ‘compute’ at all.”  The debate became more heated with more audience participation.  The public had largely concluded that decorum was wasted before such capricious authority.  Commissioner Hartung asked some probing questions about improving Lemmon Valley Drive and pressed whether it would be expanded to 4 lanes with a bike lane.  Commissioner Hartung also wants to see all the neighborhood roads repaired.  Engineer Dwayne Smith said this could proceed after the subgrade becomes accessible (after the flood recedes).  Raising and widening the road of course displaces more water which will end up in the yards of the flooded residents.  Here are some of the public comments.

  • “Moving 248 acres of soil for the combined development risks local wells and the soil may never recover.”
  • “NRS requires that appeal issues be addressed. If not, then the commission is in violation.”
  • “Developers are draining their properties onto those of homeowners.”
  • Again, “What about the homeowner’s investment-backed expectations?”
  • Suggestion to flow the majority of the waste water effluent from the Stead Plant to the county plant. This will require a new 8” pipeline.

The proceedings reached a deadlock when no one would second Commissioner Herman’s motion to deny the appeal.  And, no one would second Commissioner Berkbigler’s motion to accept the appeal.  Counsel Liperelli explained that the commission was obliged to approve or deny the appeal now or soon.  Commissioner Lucey broke the stalemate making the argument that the county couldn’t afford to fix Lemmon Drive, and so we needed to approve development to get at least part of it fixed.  He did not emphasize the fact that the development would contribute to flooding, traffic congestion, and school overcrowding in the process.  The appeal was accepted 3-1 (Commissioner Herman was the “no”).  The developer got what he wanted.  The meeting ended at 5:50 PM.

While the North Valley’s CAB and the Planning Commission seek sensible plans considering the issues raised by residents, it appears that the county commissioners are making arbitrary and capricious judgments overturning the unanimous decisions of the subordinate bodies in order to favor developers.



Lemmon Drive Estates … LINK

Prado Ranch North … LINK  LINK  LINK

5 thoughts on “DEVELOPERS – 3 / HOMEOWNERS – 0

  1. Not surprised at all, but I am sickened by this result. Angry beyond anything words can describe. Never expected county commissioners would be the enemy of our cherished lives.


  2. What a pile – so much for the voice of the people. It is a complete farce when you elected officials are not the voice of the ones you represent. Shame on you and your tarnished seats; you should never bite the hand that feeds you, and that is exactly what you did.
    I, too, never expected our county commissioners would turn their backs and not support those that supported them!

    Thank you J. Herman – please keep up your good work and being, what looks like, the only voice we have.


  3. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for the updates…..a very maddening outcome to be sure…..what is next? Can we appeal their appeal?

    Thanks in advance,

    Lori Z


    • From here, the only appeal is to Judicial Review. Here, the plaintiffs can argue that the decision by the commissioners is “arbitrary and capricious”. This is a tough hurdle, especially since the courts are loath to rule on the counties following their own requirements. But, I think it might win in this case since the CAB and the Planning Commission were both unanimous in their denials. I expect the Lemmon Valley Recovery Committee is weighing this approach.


  4. Pingback: Lemmon Valley Heights Day in Court – Post By Steve Wolgast | Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning

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