Tuesday 11/5/19 Washoe County/Reno Joint Meeting
The Reno City Council and the Washoe County Commission had a joint meeting to decide a zoning change to a single property in the “Reno/Stead Corridor”. The 1-acre property is behind the Shell station at the corner of Lemmon Drive and Buck Drive. The request was to rezone it from medium-density suburban to general commercial. The joint meeting was required because the property is in Washoe County but within Reno’s “sphere of influence”. It seemed like a big production to decide the fate of a single parcel. As part of the change, the county had to make a “regulatory zone amendment” for the property. This required a minimum of three commissioners to vote “yes”. Commissioners Hartung and Berkbigler voted “yes” while Commissioner Herman voted “no” due to concerns about increased storm run off. Commissioners Jung and Lucey were absent and not participating by phone. Chairman Hartung had the county manager call Lucey at home in order to record his vote. Lucey voted “yes” by phone, and Hartung declared the motion passed. This appears to be a violation of the Open Meeting Law in the Nevada Revised Statutes. Commissioner Lucey was not recorded as “present” at the beginning of the meeting, so he should not be permitted to participate after the vote was held.
Wednesday 11/6/19 Reno City Council
The city council denied an appeal to the decision by the Reno Planning Commission to approve the construction of two water tanks by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority on Forest Service land. The purpose is to support the massive Stonegate development using water from Honey Lake via the Vidler Pipeline. The appellant (DeMartini) believes the volume of water to be provided to Stonegate through these tanks will upset the water balance in Cold Springs. The water for Stonegate is not included in the analysis done by the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commission. It is not included in the comprehensive water-plan process. Council member Brekhus was the only one opposed.
Wednesday 11/6/19 Silver Knolls
A hundred neighbors packed the Red Rock fire station for a meeting of the Silver Knolls Community Organization. Their board approved working with a local attorney to file a writ of mandamus against Washoe County. The commission had overturned the decision of the Washoe Planning Commission to deny the Silver Hills development. The writ of mandamus is a relatively generic complaint that the plaintiffs were denied due process or “equal protection under the law”. Attendees had a number of questions, but no apparent discord.
Thursday 11/7/19 Stonegate
The Reno Planning Commission reviewed the first tentative map for the first phase of the massive Stonegate development. Only a few neighbors showed up but the familiar development promoters all did: Pagni (lawyer for Daybreak), Barnes (developer), Huggins (developer’s planner), Enloe (TMWA), and Smith (county engineer). Arlo Stockham represented the planning department. Perhaps even the city was embarrassed at the thought of having Fuss involved with a project she had recently promoted before being hired by the city.
During public comment, Michael DeMartini spoke about his concerns regarding water. #1: The project brings a lot of water into a closed basin in a pipeline costing $14M. The Western Regional Water Authority has not yet reviewed the impact this will have. #2: The water rights are inadequate to support this volume of water. #3: The mitigation is inadequate. The water table is too high for retention ponds to be effective. A second speaker said that he got notification from his home insurer that his home was now in a flood plain due in part to expected development.
A couple of points raised during questioning …
- Some of the lots will be as small as 2400 sqft with only 5′ deep back, front, and side yards. One side will be “zero lot line” where the wall of the home is part of the fence.
- The development will be served by the Cold Springs Water Reclamation Facility
- Flood mitigation volume to be 1.3X the expected runoff.
- Cold Springs didn’t flood last year, but the water level was worrisome.
- Homes will be built with fire sprinklers until the fire station is built.
- No construction will start until the water-supply pipeline is built; likely in a year.
- No builder has yet been identified for this first phase.
The city’s planner (Heather Manzo) seemed very friendly with Ms. Huggins. It does not give the attendees confidence that the project got an impartial review.
The discussion on the dais …
- Gower is concerned about the air pollution resulting from the dense development. He doesn’t think the fire protection plan is adequate. He thought the Planned Unit Development for Stonegate should be amended rather than using a variance to allow the small lots.
- Olivas is concerned about the maintenance of the detention basins and is also opposed to the use of a variance.
- Johnson is not satisfied that the project is compatible with surrounding uses or that it is in conformance with the master plan.
The votes …
- Approving the tentative map (5-1): Velto, Taylor, Hawkins, Johnson, Olivas approving; Gower opposing.
- Approving the Special Use Permit (6-0): unanimous
- Approving the Variance for the small lot homes (3-3 fail): Velto, Taylor, Olivas approving; Gower, Johnson, Hawkins opposing.
The tentative map includes the small-lot homes which were excluded when the variance was not approved. Does this mean that the tentative map is not approved?
PS I got clarification from the Reno planner (Manzo) that the variance was only for the landscaping requirements for the small-lot properties. The small lots are allowed as part of the tentative map. The developer will need to landscape the setbacks per the existing code.
Thursday 11/7/19 Pleasant Valley
The South Valleys’ Citizens Advisory Board reviewed a request to repair a bridge on Rhodes Road. It has been reduced to one-lane due to damage. Neighbors raised the following concerns.
- Traffic flow is poor, and the signs are obstacles to safe passage.
- The county says the bridge is unsafe, but plan to take nearly a year to replace it.
- Residents are concerned that the reason to replace the bridge is to allow more development.
The county engineer said that if the bridge were extended from 14 to 20 feet, it would become the responsibility of NDOT. Otherwise, the county will pay to repair or replace it. The fire department will not sign off on new development unless the bridge is extended for better emergency access. Extending the bridge would allow for new development and transfer the maintenance to NDOT.