The appeal of the Silver Hills development was heard by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission this evening. The TMRPA had previously denied the project finding it non-conforming. This commission represents the principal governmental bodies of the Truckee Meadows: Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County
- Peter Gower, Mark Johnson, Kathleen Taylor (Reno)
- David Blaco, Read, Dian Vanderwell (Sparks)
- Jim Barnes ,Larry Chesney, Sarah Chvilicek, (Washoe County)
The project currently includes 1872 homes on 780 acres for an average density of 2.4 dwelling units per acre (du/acre). The area is currently zoned 1 du/acre, so the developer is seeking a master plan amendment to allow higher density. Separately, they want approval of the project as a Plan of Regional Significance (PRS).
The developer claimed that Truckee Meadows Fire Chief Charlie Moore “signed off” on the plan. Moore has been unwilling to challenge developers when their plans fail to provide adequate wildfire evacuation capacity. The developer also displayed a letter from Brian Beffort representing the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club praising the project. This resident is appalled.
Concerned residents made the following points during public comment.
- The developer contributed roughly $12,000 to four of the county commissioners. All four voted to approve. Commissioner Herman funded her own campaign and voted to deny.
- The developer has promised to build another fire station for Chief Moore’s organization. This looks like a quid-pro-quo agreement.
- The Washoe County Sheriff says he doesn’t have the deputies to protect this new development.
- The traffic report is inaccurate. The “service levels” would be “D & F”, not “C” as claimed by the developer.
- The developer keeps changing the plan. It is hard to assess the problems.
- The existing plan allowing 1 du/acre presumes that homes would be on well and septic. “Importing” water into the basin from TMWA will contribute to flooding in Swan Lake and Silver Lake.
- What about the cumulative impacts on traffic from Stonegate, Evans Ranch, and other coming developments.
- The engineering reports commissioned by the developers are consistently misleading or blatantly false so that they must be considered skeptically.
The developer said that it would take 2-3 years to build the first homes and 12-20 years to complete the project.
Chesney made the point that this project “Flies in the face of the North Valleys Plan”.
On the motion to overturn the TMRPA decision and to approve the zoning amendment, the vote went as follows.
For: Read, Vanderwell, Blaco, Johnson, Taylor
Against: Barnes, Chesney, Chvilicek, Gower
The motion failed since a 2/3 majority was required.
On the motion to approve the project as a project of regional significance, the votes were the same. But, the outcome was different since only a simple majority is needed for this motion. So, the project is approved, but it cannot move forward since the zoning has not been changed to accommodate it. The developer plans to appeal to the Truckee Meadows Regional Governing Board to get the zoning amendment passed.
The massive Daybreak project was also reviewed at this meeting. The purpose was to review the conformance with the regional master plan. The TMRPA staff was concerned about the flood risk, but with no Hydrologist on staff or available, recommended approval of the project anyway. Staff found it conforming otherwise.
Residents made the following points during public comment.
- The wild horses of the Virginia Range will be excluded from their last access to water.
- The developer has incorporated flood mitigation features into their plan, but historically 90% of such features have failed to mitigate flooding in the Truckee Meadows.
- One resident pointed out a list of specific code violations.
- The area has been identified as a “Critical Flood Storage Area.” Development here is discouraged in the most emphatic terms.
- Cumulative impacts from the massive development in the area will render the developer’s report meaningless.
- The developer’s hydro-logical study does not include the impact of several tributaries to Steamboat Creek.
- Daybreak could be the next Lemmon Valley as a poster child of irresponsible development.
- Homeowner’s Associations will not be able to handle responsibility for the drainage features or for the wetlands.
- Neither Washoe County nor the TMRPA have current computer tools to model this flooding.
Smith and Gower bemoaned the fact that there is no hydro-logical model confirming that the flood hazard won’t be exacerbated.
Gower does not think such a suburban development should be considered “infill”.
Smith said that their role was only to determine whether the plan was in conformance with the regional plan.
The vote went as follows.
Taylor, Read, Blaco, Vanderwell, Johnson, and Gower voted to approve.
Barnes, Chesney, and Chvilicek voted to deny.
The project is approved. Smith, Gower, and Johnson made the point that safety hazards will be addressed by other bodies (eg Army Corps of Engineers). Based on the problems we’ve seen with past developments, their confidence may be misplaced.