The Reno Planning Commission voted 4-2 to continue (postpone) consideration of this phase of the project as requested by the developer (Verdi Area Development). Planning commissioners Velto, Johnson, Taylor, and Olivas approved while Hawkins and Marshall voted against. Presumably, they wanted an opportunity to deny the project outright. This proposal is in a state of limbo. The Meridian 120 South project includes 6 “villages” for a total of 558 residences effectively doubling the population of Verdi. The developer is introducing it in phases without presenting an overall plan, so it is impossible to review the total impacts on traffic, wildfire evacuation, fire protection, flooding, and other issues. The first phase of the project (villages 1 & 2) is in litigation after the city council denied it. The city council furthermore remanded the first phase of the project back to the planning commission with instructions to consider the total project rather than the phases individually (June 2019). The applicant asserted that the continuance was needed to work out undefined issues with a neighbor to the south. This lacked credibility.
Opening public comment was made by Kerry Doyle (attorney from the Lemmon Valley class-action suit) saying that she was representing The Society for the Preservation of Verdi. She went on to say that the cumulative impacts of this huge project cannot be accurately assessed unless it is reviewed in its entirety. She went on to urge that the requested continuance be denied since the developer is not complying with the directive of the city council. Going forward, the planning commission should refuse to put any partial proposals on their agenda. Her office has moved for an injunction to prevent BT South (developer) from submitting partial plans for consideration. Until the court acts, she exhorts the planning commission to refuse to consider parts of the project individually.
There were 35 public comment requests; some written only. Here are some of the points neighbors made.
- Some of the apartments are too tall. It is not compatible with the site location and scale.
- Some of the tall buildings will put existing neighbors in the shade.
- The top story balconies will invade the privacy of some homes.
- Parking will be woefully inadequate in the plan.
- Reno claimed that it could not provide emergency services. Verdi has no fire station; not even a volunteer station.
- Needed infrastructure should be in place before construction.
- This is a poor plan bringing in excessive density to the detriment of the community.
- The Garson Rd. overpass (built 1964) is already inadequate as is the on-ramp to I-80.
- This developer has lied consistently about their plans to address flooding.
- The federal DOT should review the plans since the I-80 ramp can flood.
- Wildfire evacuation issues are “a recipe for death”. The emergency exit is to the East which is most likely heading into an approaching fire.
- One resident lost two horses in the 1996 wildfire: he was unable to evacuate them.
- Neighbors bought homes on 1-acre lots with the reasonable expectation that zoning would be honored.
- Area development is putting pressure on wildlife. Deer are roaming Verdi due to the loss of their habitat.
- The developer is making no effort to accommodate the existing neighbors. The continuance is made under false pretenses.
- Some of the problems with the plan previously identified by staff have not been addressed. Issues need to be addressed now; not “figured out” later.
- Steamboat Ditch is not identified as a drainage ditch by the Army Corps, but is intended for this use by this developer.
- Older wells provided ample flow drilled 200′ deep. Now wells need to be 500′ deep and provide less flow.
- TMWA’s water line will not be complete until 2021 at the earliest. In this regard, the tentative map does not comply with the code requirements.
- The developer misrepresented the water plans to the city in 2016. The developer has gone to court to force the city to approve the plan again.
- Developer payments to the city are already overdue.
- The traffic study is now two years old and not current.
Note that the traffic report was done by Paul Soleagui who has consistently written reports that favor the developers that employ him. He is notorious after doing traffic studies on national holidays when there are no commuters or school traffic.
Neighbors cringed to see Angela Fuss on the dais. After years of promoting non-compliant developments for Lumos, her new position as the manager of the planning department suggests the total capture of Reno’s planning function by the developers.