Warm Springs Area Plan Vindicated

The Washoe Planning Commission vindicated the Warm Springs Area Plan when they unanimously denied the Marshall Ranch master plan amendment and the associated rezoning.  The meeting was February 5.

Overview (WMPA18-0006 and WRZA18-0006 Marshall Ranch – Staff Presentation)

  • The property is 1088 acres zoned General Rural which allows one dwelling unit per 40 acres.  Under current zoning, this would allow a maximum of 27 homes to be built.  The number of homes will probably be reduced by acreage that is too steep (154 acres).
  • The location is West of the Pyramid Highway along the Winnemucca Ranch Road north of Spanish Springs.
  • The developer, Ken Krater, proposed to change the zoning to Rural Residential which would allow lot sizes of 5 acres and would permit a maximum of 187 homes to be built.
  • The City of Reno declined to annex the property with a plan to build 2500 homes.  It was removed from the City’s sphere of influence in 2017.
  • The developer planned to place 812 acres into a conservation easement.  It is not clear whether this will be retained given the denial of the project by the Planning Commission.  Given that 812 acres would not be available for development and 154 acres are too steep, there might be only 122 acres available to build.  This would allow a maximum of 24 homes on 5-acre lots.  By the time the conditions of acceptance are met, it will be less.
  • Apparently, the developer is running a federal tax scam.  Claiming that he could build 187 homes on the property greatly increases it’s value.  The tax deduction for conserving 812 acres would be huge if the property is assessed as supporting 187 homes.

Public Concerns and Comments

  • In the opening comments, two residents wanted to see the role and authority of their Citizen’s Advisory Board and all CAB’s expanded to address concerns of residents beyond just development.  The CAB’s used to have broader authority and there were also more CAB’s before recent consolidation.  The changes implemented have concentrated power in the Board of County Commissioners.
  • Regarding the Marshall Ranch project, several residents made the argument that they specifically moved to a rural area to have a rural lifestyle and are willing to drive long distances to services in the process.
  • Winnemucca Ranch Road is only partly paved and is not suited to handle 1800 more average daily car trips.
  • There are 900 new homes approved in Spanish Springs that are not yet built.  Marshall Ranch will compound a bad traffic problem.
  • There isn’t water up there.  That was part of the reason for the rural zoning.
  • If the zoning is amended to allow for higher densities here, there will be a dangerous precedent to violate area plans.
  • Truckee Meadows Fire has estimated that it will take 45 minutes to reach homes in the area.  The emergency services won’t support further development.
  • There is only a single access road with no second evacuation route in case of a wildfire.
  • One resident had the opinion that having the 812 acres preserved in perpetuity was worth the drawbacks of the added development.

Developer Presentation

  • The preservation of the original Marshall Ranch buildings on 40 acres is a benefit to the area.  It will continue to be used for grazing.
  • Setting aside 812 acres for conservation is a great benefit to the area.  The developer’s goal is to get a large tax deduction for this based on increasing the assessment of the property based on the value of the new homes.
  • Their plan is much better than the one they pitched to the City of Reno.
  • He needs 467 acre feet of water for his plan.  He has bought rights to 385 acre-feet and has plans to acquire the balance.  Up to 4 homes may be on wells.
  • The site is outside TMWRF, so he would build a dedicate wastewater treatment plant.
  • He would put in a “community water system” to support future development.

Staff Presentation

  • Staff made no recommendation for approval or denial of the project.
  • This area is a crucial winter range for antelope and is also a mule deer habitiat.  The wastewater plant would be in the habitat for the endangered Carson Wandering Skipper butterfly.
  • Emergency services access would be considered in detail before the tentative map review.

Commissioner Comments

  • The developer provided updated information the day of the Planning Commission meeting.  This is unacceptable.  There is no time to review this.
  • There is concern over EMS access and public safety.
  • It is inconsistent with the Area Plan.

Caution!

The developer is likely to appeal.  The Board of County Commissioners strongly favors developers and will not hesitate to overrule the Planning Commission.  The developer has 30 days to appeal.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Warm Springs Area Plan Vindicated

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