The Bella Vista Ranch II development along the Steamboat Creek north of South Meadows Parkway was on the agenda Wednesday night. The Planned Unit Development application was last approved by Reno in 2013. The applicant wanted to amend the PUD to reduce the commercial part and to change increase the number of dwelling units from 575 to 612. This development is adjacent to the properties included in Daybreak, but is not part of that development. The risk of flooding from Steamboat Creek is a major consideration as is the effect of the development on the wetlands. Of particular interest, is the issue of the area wild horses which access forage and water across this property. This is the last access area for the horses since development along the base of the Virginia Range has excluded them from a line of recent developments in Damonte Ranch. The city council voted unanimously to continue (postpone) the consideration until the regular meeting on October 23, 2019.
Public Comments: (there were 31 online comments in opposition; none in support)
- The horses need access to water at a minimum. Simply providing a trough will not be enough to support as many as 300-400 horses.
- The next water is several miles away. The horses were born and raised where they are and are not suited to seek water that is distant. They will die of dehydration.
- Horses need to access the wetlands for forage as well as water.
- There is presently a gate, but it has been problematic. If it is unlocked for recreational access, it is often left open and the horses end up in traffic on Veterans Parkway. If the gate is locked, it has been breached by individuals who want to go “4-wheeling”. The applicant says the gate has been replaced 9 times.
- The PUD was applied for in 2005. The related Army Corps of Engineers permit (form 404) expired in 2008.
- The 404 permit was to re-align part of Steamboat Creek and did not cover the development. As a result, the PUD should never have been approved. There may need to be federal enforcement if the development moves forward.
- There has been no credible testing for Mercury on the property. There should be a grid test to a depth of 10 feet. This was done along the Southeast Connector where Mercury was found to that depth.
- There are already many high-density neighborhoods in the area. There should be a moratorium on development throughout Reno.
- The latest version of the PUD dates back to 2013. It is an out-of-date plan and should not be considered valid at this time.
- The amendment should be denied since the included commercial zoning is needed to limit vehicle-miles-traveled for sustainability.
- Schieve: “Providing water for the horses is imperative. What about the Mercury?”
- Oswald (staff): “They don’t need a 404 permit since they are not affecting Steamboat Creek.” If the applicant is willing to forgo the new amendment, they have approval to move forward now.
- Duerr: “We need to resolve the horse issue before the project can move forward.” She is also concerned about building on soil that may be unstable. Reno has a habit of putting maintenance burdens on HOA’s that are beyond their capabilities. The Army Corps of Engineers has told her that Mercury is a concern on this property. There is a recent Army Corps of Engineers study that should be considered before this project moves forward. There should be accommodation for electric cars. Trees specified in the PUD must be protected and maintained. One mall owner recently cut down trees that were specified in their PUD. Reno doesn’t have a natural resources plan, but is working on one.
- Brekhus: “How far are you willing to go up this hillside with development?” She said that she has been hesitant to get involved with developments outside her ward, but she has been seeing consistent problems with developments around the city. She made the point that Reno has accommodated the applicant with multiple amendments to their PUD including the novel step of breaking it into two phases. The applicant should be ready to accept some changes for the public interest if they want another amendment. The city council has to accept that they “own” the approval of recent developments. The applicant may need a new PUD or maybe it’s better to let them use the tentative map process and get the plan reviewed by the Planning Commission. That original 2005 approval “is in the rear-view mirror.” [out of date].
- Delgado: “How do we know the PUD incorporates the latest information and requirements?” Oswald “We will review the tentative maps for the latest information. We will work with the developers for horse access to water. Brian Stewart (RTC) “The wetland study of the Southeast Connector is not finished. It is a year overdue.”
- Delgado: “Is the developer willing to continue the project in order to address the issues?” Applicant “Yes, if the issues are specified and a date is set to return for approval.” Delgado “Can the staff work with the principal parties to resolve the issues?” Oswald “Yes.” The applicant agreed to continue the consideration. Delgado said the intent was to have answers.
The Reno Finance Director requested approval to move forward with a request for a $55 million sewer bond for the expansion of the Reno-Stead Water Reclamation Facility (aka RSWRF) in Lemmon Valley. This would go to the Washoe County Debt Management Commission (for 8/16/19 meeting) and then the state. This was a contentious topic given that RSWRF discharges into Swan Lake it is partly responsible for the recent flooding. Deborah Loughner (Reno Finance Director) made the point that this was a first step: it does not authorize her to issue bonds. The bonds would be bought by the state. Council member Brekhus is concerned that this would abandon the current pay-as-you-go sewer system funding and double the sewer-fund debt. She is also concerned that issues she raised about RSWRF last September have not been answered or resolved. Also, a new bond request for the TMWRF sewer plant is about to be presented soon too. Brekhus is concerned that it is premature to talk about funding the RSWRF plant expansion before there is a comprehensive plan for Lemmon Valley. She is concerned that current ratepayers for TMWRF will be subsidizing this expansion bond. Further discussion of this was postponed to the August 5 special council meeting (5:30 at city hall) or later.
Bond proposal: Snapshot-35164
Reno’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan was approved unanimously. Five individuals spoke in favor including representatives from the Sierra Club and Patagonia. Online support was recorded from 14 individuals.