The Silver Hills development was unanimously denied by the North Valleys Citizens’ Advisory Board. There were about 60 neighbors in attendance for meeting at the North Valleys Regional Park building. This project had been brought up at an earlier CAB meeting, but it had not been properly “agendized” for them to make a decision. The area is zoned 1 dwelling per acre. Existing homes follow this requirement. Many are on multi-acre lots. The developer wants to build 1872 homes on 780 acres.
Neighbors made the following points during public comment.
- This development is not compatible with the area plan. Silver Knolls has adhered to the existing zoning for 40 years.
- The TMRPA survey showed that this kind of urban sprawl was the least popular of the four growth options considered by respondents.
- The new development would be in an area of high fire danger. The limited fire resources would likely be used to protect the new development rather than existing homeowners.
- An earlier nearby development followed the area plan. In this case, the neighbors worked with the developer.
- Red Rock Road is already a hazard and can’t handle additional traffic. There is already no safe way to pass bicycles on the narrow pavement. It has low spots that can flood. RTC plans to widen the road, but there is no schedule to do it. There are residential driveways onto Red Rock Road.
- The board members should consider the developer reports skeptically since the engineering firms have an interest in pleasing their clients.
- The area is already under-served by law enforcement. It will only get worse.
- There is a petition signed by 500 residents who oppose this development. This represents the majority of the residents.
Mike Raley (of Wood Rogers) gave the presentation for the developer, Lifestyle Homes. He said the plan had been changed since December in ways to better accommodate the neighbors.
- He claimed that the zoning wasn’t that different from the area plan and that there was an open space buffer so the neighborhoods could keep their character.
- The number of dwellings had been reduced from 2340 to 1872.
- The design has increased park acreage.
- They would plan to use 100% of the effluent generated for landscape irrigation. They are in negotiations with RSWRF on how to do this.
- They have added an equestrian trail.
- It will probably be 2-3 years before construction begins and it will take 15-20 years before the development is completed.
- RTC plans to widen Red Rock Road to 4 lanes in 2022 or 2023 to support the Evans Ranch development in any case.
- The discussion of a new North Valleys reservoir is not related to the Silver Hills development.
- The smaller lots would be 1/6 of an acre.
The board posed questions to Mr. Raley.
Roger Edwards asked “Why not follow the existing area plan?”. Raley answered that the developer wanted to meet a variety of demands for homes.
Roger Edwards asked whether this was considered affordable housing. Raley answered no, that many of the homes were for working families considered the “missing middle”. Edwards was not satisfied with the answer.
Patrick Shea asked about the lot sizes. Raley answered that clustering was allowed.
The public posed questions to Mr. Raley.
“Could the development schedule be accelerated if the developer sold off part to other builders?” Raley answered that it might, but that it probably wouldn’t make much difference.
“Will the current residents be required to connect to municipal sewer?” Raley answered “no”. The existing septic systems would not be impacted. Audience members were skeptical.
“Where is the water coming from?” Raley answered that it will be delivered by TMWA from Fish Springs.
“If the build-out will take 15-20 years, how does that address the current housing shortage?” Raley answered that they expect the housing boom to last 30 years, so it will address the need.
“This development will lower the property values of existing residents since the rural lifestyle will be spoiled.” There was no answer.
“When will the lower cost homes be built to address the “missing middle”? Raley said that the less expensive models would be built first.
The board deliberated, but the main issue was the change to the character of the area. There was a consensus that such a large, dense development would despoil the rural character of the area.
The development proposal will go to the Washoe Planning Commission next. If it is denied by the Planning Commission, the developer will likely appeal to the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners composed of realtors, developers, and property managers. The BCC consistently provides a sympathetic hearing to developers.
Ray Lake announced that he is not seeking re-appointment to the CAB. He has served seven years and needs to reduce his obligations at this time. He will be missed. He has proven masterful with a balance grace and discipline in the way he runs the meetings. Fortunately, the board appears to be clear-eyed and resolute in their convictions.