The Bella Vista development is bounded on the North, East, and West by the Daybreak development. It is bounded on the south side by South Meadows Parkway. It is no surprise that the same hazards that dogged Daybreak also apply to this project. An amendment proposed by the developer was approved by the Reno City Council on December 4, 2019. The vote was 4-3 with Brekhus, Duerr, and Schieve voting “no”.
The developer was seeking an amendment to their Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposal previously approved. It would incorporate the following changes:
- Reduce the commercial area from 15 to 5 acres along South Meadows Parkway.
- Add 37 homes to increase the total from 575.
- Reduce the maximum housing density from 30 dwelling units/acre to 20 du/acre.
- Add two water troughs for the wild horses since the horses will not be able to traverse the property to reach the wetlands. It is not clear where the water or water rights will come from. This would be a side-agreement with the city.
Arlo Stockham (Reno planner) says that his department supports these changes as being improvements to the project. He sees the changes as relatively minor.
Tracy Wilson spoke during public comment about the needs of the wild horses in the Virginia Range.
- There are about 375 horses in this area and this property is their last access to water.
- The local wild-horse advocates concluded that a minimum of 3 troughs would be needed.
- She has been willing to work with the developer on the horse issues, but Reno should have a policy regarding the horse requirements and development.
- The wild horses represent an eco-tourism opportunity.
Kim Rhodemyre of the Upper Southeast Communities Coalition spoke during public comment about the public safety concerns regarding this development.
- There should be an updated wetlands delineation map before this development proceeds. This was requested by Council Member Duerr and has not been produced.
- The Army Corps of Engineers permit has expired. The work has not been done to meet the deadlines.
- The testing for Mercury is laughably inadequate. They took 20 samples from the surface and concluded that little Mercury was present. Testing for Mercury in preparation for the Southeast Connector revealed Mercury present down to a depth of 5 feet. Grading for construction will disturb Mercury below the surface and send it downstream to neighborhoods to the North.
- Like Daybreak, this development is close to the flood plain and approval should be delayed until there is an updated FEMA flood map.
Stockham made a presentation (Planning-Staff_120419 ). He asserted that his staff had no concern at all about the risk of Mercury exposure, the flood risk, and the Army Corps permit.
The developer made a presentation (Developer-Presentation_120419) intended to rebut Rhodemyre’s arguments point by point.
- They claimed that the Army Corps. permit was valid. But it is not clear that it was met in detail.
- They claimed that there Mercury testing was adequate and did not address the question of disturbing the subsurface contaminants during construction.
- They claimed that the development is at a higher elevation so that flooding would not be a concern, but they didn’t include elevations or historical data.
Viewing this as a layman, it did not look convincing.
Council members made the following points from the dais.
- “Maybe Reno should have a policy on wildlife.”
- “The Mercury testing sounds inadequate: there should be sub-surface sampling.”
- The HOA may not be up to the task of maintaining the wetlands and the drainage features. This responsibility should borne by a body with more resources.
- She wants to see the updated flood map.
- She is skeptical about the construction and maintenance of the flood-control structures. She notes that only 40% of such features are in compliance in Lemmon Valley.
- This development will contribute more flow to Steamboat Creek putting downstream residents at additional risk. This is not addressed in the plan.
- The distinction between “wild” and “ferral” horses is meaningless. The original tame horses are long since dead. The abandoned horses have long since interbred with the wild horses so that they are indistinguishable.
- Two drinking troughs is not enough. A fenced corridor to the wetlands would be the best solution to providing water for the horses.
- The developer should post bonds to maintain the flood control features. The HOA is not competent to handle these larger issues.
To the casual observer, it looks like Delgado is again putting the developer’s profits ahead of the safety of residents in his ward.