The Washoe County Commission overturned the denial of the Silver Hills project by the Washoe Planning Commission. This is consistent with the commissioners’ practice of favoring developers on every proposal. Commissioners Berkbigler, Hartung, Jung, and Lucey voted to overturn the denial while Commissioner Herman was opposed.
It was dramatic: the county chambers were filled with a standing-room only crowd. The majority had come to support the developer (Lissner) wearing Lifestyle Homes T-shirts. Many appeared to be construction workers. The Silver Knolls neighbors were well represented too.
Trevor Lloyd (county planner) gave a brief synopsis of the plan and went on to detail the reasons that the staff recommended to deny the project. He appeared rattled by the size and temperament of the audience. He recalled that the North Valleys Citizens Advisory Board had voted to deny the project as had the Washoe Planning Commission (LINK).
Garrett Gordon (representing the developer) made a presentation refuting the findings of the Planning Commission. Part of it was to cite obscure references permitting higher density development. He indicated a number of new concessions by the developer, but not reducing the density.
- Commissioner Jung asked if there were “claw-back” provisions in case the new conditions weren’t met. Gordon explained that the developer could be held responsible by not approving the tentative map for the next phase of the development.
- Commissioner Lucey noted that there was no traffic report included with the project binder. The developer is offering a one-time fee of $300 per home to support firefighting services and $300 per home to support law enforcement services. This is roughly $1.1M which will cover very little for new emergency services.
- Commissioner Hartung asked whether their flood mitigation would be detention or retention basins. Gordon said “both”. Hartung asked whether the development planned for the Stead area was considered in the traffic report. Roger Pelham (county planner) answered that this was not considered since it is in Reno. Hartung went on to ask what the developer will do if the Stead sewer plant (RSWRF) runs out of capacity. There is talk of a new sewer plant in the area.
There was a solid 3 hours of public comment. There were 31 speakers in favor of the appeal. These were Lifestyle Homes employees, the employees of subcontractors, realtors, Lifestyle-Homes homeowners, and people who knew Peter Lissner. They made familiar arguments.
- The jobs will be good for the economic development of the area.
- We need more homes that millennials can afford.
- Lissner developments become great communities.
- Neighbors in opposition are just narrow minded.
- Ian Satterfield (TMFPD) spoke in support of the development. It will provide a new fire house and it would be worse if Reno were to annex the property.
The 22 speakers in opposition also made familiar arguments that had been presented to the Planning Commission.
- The traffic study was B.S.: it was conducted over the July 4 weekend.
- This appeal is not a jobs bill: it is a compliance action.
- Retired Cal Fire Director, Ken Pimlott, said they are replicating the situation in Paradise and Coffee Park that burned with fatalities in California.
- There’s insufficient evacuation capacity now on Red Rock Road.
- The funding promised by the developer to widen Red Rock Road is $80M short.
- Home insurance will show higher risks and higher rates.
- The NVCAB, the Planning Commission, and the Planning Department couldn’t make the findings. The Board of County Commissioners must address the findings.
Sparks fly with these exchanges.
- Gordon asked everyone in favor of the development to stand. More than half the audience did. The neighbors booed loudly, causing Hartung to bang his gavel and call for order.
- One speaker insisted that Commissioner Jung should recuse herself given the interaction he had seen her have with the developer. Jung went over to the clerk and got the speaker’s information at which point another speaker shouted “She has no right to his information!” This disrupted the meeting and Hartung threatened to have the second speaker thrown out.
- One neighbor asked all the supporters to stand. They did so … reluctantly. She then asked everyone who lived on the Red Rock Road Corridor to remain standing. All sat.
Following public comment, Herman stated her opposition based on her promise to the Lemmon Valley residents that she would not support any more projects that imported water into the basin.
Gordon got a chance to rebut the points made during public comment and made no significant new points.
The discussion went back to the dais.
- Lucey: “Growth is coming, we need to accept it. This is a well thought-out project. I was unhappy that the Planning Commission didn’t ask the questions that I had to ask. Infrastructure always follows development. Neighbors should be more open- minded and understanding.”
- Berkbigler: “This is a good project.”
- Hartung expresses concern about traffic on Red Rock Road and then waxes poetic about his many years of watching the area develop. He says that “All residents are part of the growth. If we deny the project, the developer could get approval from Reno and build to even higher density.”
Residents left at 7:30 in disgust.