Some weeks it seems like the developers always get their way with irresponsible plans that put residents’ safety at risk and undermine everyone’s quality of life. But, the neighbors don’t always lose. There are a couple of bright spots from the last few weeks. They may indicate a trend.
Reno lost to the neighbors in the class action suit seeking damages for flooding from Swan Lake. Reno was found guilty of knowingly flooding the neighbors. The city council voted to appeal the verdict to the Nevada Supreme Court. The court denied the appeal on 12/12/19 so that the next phase of the trial can move forward. There will be a second trial to determine what damages will be awarded to the plaintiffs. The next time you speak during public comment before the city council, you could remind the council members that they are guilty of knowingly harming their constituents and that this was upheld on appeal. You might also point out that the city is willing to shoulder the legal costs of fighting the voters, but not the developers (Daybreak).
Silver Hills Development Denied
The massive Silver Hills development was denied by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority. This plan was denied by the Washoe County Planning Commission, but the developer appealed and got a sympathetic hearing from the Board of County Commissioners. They overturned the denial and approved the project. It is a project “of regional significance”, so it requires the additional approval of the regional authority. This may represent a new, rigorous approach by the authority reflecting a recent change of leadership. We can hope so.
Mortensen Ranch Development Denied
The tentative map for this project was unanimously denied by the Reno Planning Commission on 12/181/9. It was mostly on procedural grounds: the zoning should have been explicitly changed rather than done as part of the tentative-map process. Never mind. It’s quite possible that it would have been denied for other reasons if this procedure had not been controversial. The chambers were packed with neighbors for 4 hours to share their views and to witness the vote. This was surely a factor. While the developer will likely appeal to the city council, the unanimous denial is significant. Concerned residents should be ready to attend that meeting and spell out to the city council that approval would represent malfeasance. The real estate market is “cooling”. Development that is delayed now, may not be profitable until the next economic boom in a decade or so. Such projects could join the extended list of zombie projects which are approved but not started due to market conditions.
In summary … we may be witnessing a sea change.
- The planning commissioners (Reno and Washoe) are looking skeptically at the engineering reports ordered by the developers to justify their designs. These engineering reports have been exposed as misleading and possibly fraudulent on several occasions.
- Even the staff reports are now being questioned. Planning Commissioner Johnson publicly disagreed with Planning Director Stockham, and went so far as to say that the Reno staff appeared to make a special effort to “cherry pick” regulations in order to favor the Mortensen Ranch development.
- Neighbors are fighting back; in the meetings and in the courts. Your participation makes a difference. There is a beneficial effect, even when we lose. The malfeasance of the council and commission are exposed with more attendees (witnesses) and the commensurate press coverage. Please support the fight mounted by the other neighborhoods. Their fight is your fight too.