The Reno City Council denied Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus’ appeal to the Stonegate development between Reno and Cold Springs. This is a giant development (5,000 homes) with all the typical problems on a larger scale. The issues of traffic, sewer capacity, flood mitigation, and emergency service coverage were not credibly addressed when the development was approved by the Reno Planning Commission. This appeal offered the City Council an opportunity to stop or delay what will almost surely be a regional-scale debacle. Mayor Schieve, Councilman Bobzien, Councilwomen Jardon, Duerr, and Weber all voted with the developer (Barnes) and against the appeal. Councilman Delgato was absent, and Councilman Brekhus could not vote on her own appeal.
The appeal had two assertions. First, the developer plans to use a “super pad” scheme that allows the developer to sell neighborhood-sized properties to builders in a single transaction. Later, the “super pad” will be subdivided into individual home lots. This is new and will set a problematic precedent which is neither compliant with the defined “subdivision process” nor the “parcel map process”. The developer is not proposing tentative maps nor final maps for the “super pad” division. Greg Salter (deputy city attorney) and Heather Manzo (city planner) claimed that this scheme was allowed, but both are invested in this decision. Councilwoman Brekhus suggested that the Attorney General be asked to review the scheme. Second, the developer plans to grade hundreds of acres at a time in anticipation of selling the “super pads” to builders. This is risky since the property may remain denuded for an extended time producing dust, run-off, and erosion. There is a bond for re-vegetation if the developer declares bankruptcy or abandons the project, but there is no time limit for development or re-vegetation if the developer is simply waiting for a good offer.
Public comment included the following concerns.
- The development will contribute run-off and waste water to White Lake which is at historically high levels. At this time the lake shore is not far from the highway.
- Currently Stead has only a single police officer. Reno cannot adequately support this development.
- If the large-scale grading is permitted and the housing market suffers a downturn, we are stuck with a giant scar on the landscape for years or decades.
- The hydrological characteristics of this area have not been adequately studied. Expert analysis shows that the planned mitigation is inadequate to protect White Lake from runoff.
- Reno has adopted a measure that no development be allowed that has an impact to a closed basin. Stonegate will violate this tenet.
Too bad. It looks like the City is barreling toward a record new debacle in the North Valleys.