A Conversation with Paul McKenzie

Tammy Holt-Still hosted a meeting with Paul McKenzie, George Still, and Steve Wolgast.  Paul McKenzie was the Reno City Councilman for the North Valleys.  This position is now held by Bonnie Weber.  McKenzie brought up a number of points that area residents may not know.

  • The storm drain systems for Silver Lake and Swan Lake are connected.  There is a rise between the two lake basins, but if the water gets high enough, it can flow from one to the other.  It does not look like this happened in the past two years.
  • Reno has a stop-loss liability policy which would apply to the class-action suit.  So, if the Swan Lake neighbors damages exceed limit (maybe $2M), the insurance company takes over the litigation and negotiation.
  • The settlement of the suit could include requirements relating to a plan to address the flooding in general.  This would be negotiated as part of the settlement.
  • Since the city was found guilty of “taking” (part of the “inverse condemnation” claim), there is no cap to the damages that could be awarded.
  • While only retention ponds can meet the mitigation requirements of the Regional Drainage Manual for development in Lemmon Valley, Reno does not use these in part because the Reno Department of Health does not allow such water to stand indefinitely.  This sounds like a fundamental problem since the water captured by the retention ponds is likely to take some time to percolate and evaporate.
  • Proposed Master Plan Amendments can not be summarily denied.  A Master Plan Amendment can only be denied by indicating that it does not meet the statutory “findings”.
  • The Western Regional Water Commission (WRWC) has responsibilities under NRS for responsible water management, water sustainability, and storm water management.  Some of these responsibilities are beyond TMWA‘s charter.  WRWC should be fulfilling its duty to develop a comprehensive plan to manage water availability, storm water run off, sewage collection and treatment, and flood control.
  • One promising plan to address flooding was to pump some of the RSWRF effluent  to Hungry Valley where the tribe would like the water for agriculture.  This plan broke down during negotiations with the tribe for unknown reasons.  TMWA appeared to be opposed to it.  TMWA sees effluent water as a valuable resource even as it causes flood damage.
  • Reno now uses drinking water for the landscaping of new developments in the North Valleys since the Public Works Director does not want to commit to delivering more effluent water for irrigation.
  • One concern with processing the RSWRF effluent through TMWRF is financial.  Reno and Sparks operate the TMWRF plant at a 66%/33% split (Reno/Sparks).  If TMWRF were to take RSWRF effluent, their percentage would increase so that the agreement would need to be re-negotiated.
  • Water is being provided for new development through the Vidler Pipeline coming from Fish Springs in California.  California has plans to limit the depletion of aquifers in the state.  This could impact the new Lemmon Valley developments.
  • Tentative map approvals expire unless they’re renewed.  Planned Unit Development (PUD) approvals do not expire.  The PUD specifies the number of dwellings to be built on a property, so once it is approved, the area is stuck with the size and density of development.
  • The area with the Amazon warehouse and other warehouses was originally zoned residential.  It was re-zoned to industrial following the Great Recession and the collapse of the residential housing market.  This includes the area on North Virginia Street and the area at Lemmon Drive and Military Road.

Going forward …

  • The City of Reno should be discouraged from moving forward with an appeal to the verdict in the Lemmon Valley class action suit.  Some progress may be possible in this regard through informal contacts.
  • There should be a moratorium.  There is no plan to handle the excess run off and the increasing waste water volume.
  • A strategy is needed to change the NRS in the coming session so that it grants more rights to homeowners.  As it is, it is blatantly biased in support of developers.  There are two parts to this effort.
    • Identify what changes need to be made to the statutes.
    • Identify a champion to promote these changes in the coming session.


One thought on “A Conversation with Paul McKenzie

  1. Mckenzie attended the Neighborhood meeting last summer when the Panatonni NV CC P4 presentation was given but never got an opportunity to vote on the application as the RPC approved it and without an appeal, the RCC never had to consider the matter. The developer now seems to have free rein unless residents along the Reno-Stead Joint Corridor take action. Otherwise, N. Virginia becomes a “Yellow Brick Road.” and Panatonni, et al, will be the Wizard of Oz….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s