This report comes from Kim Rhodemyre representing the Upper South East Communities Coalition.
Thank you to everyone who called and emailed the Council to voice your concerns about the Bella Vista Ranch Phase II zoning amendments! On December 4th the Council heard this item and Delgado, Reese, Weber and Jardon, voted in favor of the zoning amendments, while Schieve, Duerr and Brekhus supported south east Reno and voted no.
The 2nd reading was at City Council Wednesday (1/8/20) and it appears that Reese and Delgado had been getting a LOT of correspondence from the public and it seems to have made an impact.
There was a lot going on, but the issue of this being the last area where wild horses and other wildlife would have access to natural water had a big impact. There were also questions on the mercury testing that the developer had done and it appears that we might have finally got through to them that the testing was inadequate at best.
The final vote was Schieve, Duerr, Brekhus, Delgado, Reese and Jardon voting no to the zoning amendment and Weber was the lone yes vote.
What does that mean? The developer has a PUD Handbook for this project already. That means that they have approvals to build what they got approved back in 2013. The developer today was making a big stink that if they didn’t get their zoning amendments that they said would make a better project, then they would just build the project that they have approvals for. The amendments were to remove the small area of commercial in their project and replace that with more houses.
At the December 4th meeting, if you all recall from our previous update, the City Attorney told the Council that they could NOT condition the developer to provide access to water for the Virginia Range Horses. So after months of negotiating with the Wild Horse Connection (WHC), imagine the surprise (for different reasons) of both the developer and the Wild Horse Connection when they showed up at Council and they didn’t have to have the condition of providing water. The WHC was devastated because the City said that the developer had agreed to provide water troughs that they did not have to and in actuality they did not agree to any such thing. Over the last month, Council has been getting informed that there is no actual agreement from the developer when Council thought there was.
Additionally the mercury testing of the area was a joke. Their report that was given to Council said that the company doing the testing scraped some dirt off the surface and tested it and found levels of mercury so low that they did not have to report it. They did NO bore testing. They showed up today and said that they tested down to 1 foot and that they didn’t find enough mercury to report and then went on to try and explain that mercury is moved through water and sediment and that it layers. The top layer will have the most, then the deeper you go the less you will see. Well that is NOT what RTC found when they were testing for the Southeast Connector. In some areas they found almost no mercury at the surface but then found levels at the 2, 3, 4 and 5 foot levels that were devastatingly high. This was pointed out to Council and to the developers ‘expert’.
They also claimed that this area was not in the 100 year or even the 500 year flood zones so it does not flood. They were very adamant about that because it was brought to the attention of Council that the new FEMA remap of the Floodplain is going to be right next to the applicants property. They could end up in the flood zone. We don’t flood, they said. Well if that’s true, how did you get mercury on your property? we asked. No response.
Lots of other things happened but everyone must be prepared that they might retaliate and the developer might just fence the horses out of the property now that they have been denied. That is the fear of the advocates.
If they go ahead and move forward for development, they have to go back to Council for their tentative map. That might be the best opportunity to get the conditions on that project that are needed to make sure that 1) horses get water, 2) they do better mercury testing, and 3) that they have to wait for the FEMA remap.
Thank you again everyone. Your voices counted.