The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners denied the appeal of the Pleasant Valley Estates development that had been previously denied by the Washoe County Planning Commission. Roger Pelham presented the county staff review of the appeal. This process is slightly different in that the developer wants to amend the plan as part of the appeal. So, it is not seeking approval of the original plan. The developer is requesting to reduce the number of lots from 58 to 45 and changed the maximum and minimum lot sizes as well. The primary access road (Chance Lane) will lead into the development on a more gradual slope than in the original proposal. The road slope will now be 9% (County maximum) instead of 12% as originally proposed. The bridge on Rhodes Road is not acceptable to carry fire engines. It is not clear if that is a function of its design or its deteriorated condition. Fire crew access was estimated to be 16 minutes when the county standard is 10 minutes. The Truckee Meadows Fire Department proposed that all the homes have residential sprinklers due to the limited access by fire crews. This requirement is incorporated as a condition of the project. The staff found the development generally consistent with the goals and policies of the Master Plan.
One inconsistency: Pelham reported that the steeper parts of the property would be made part of the open space while the lot maps show the steeper parts included in larger residential lots.
Commissioner Hartung asked Pelham why this plan wasn’t immediately remanded back to the Planning Commission once the developer made changes. Pelham didn’t know, but said that the developer wanted it to come to the Board of County Commissioners as part of their appeal. The County Attorney explained that the Board had the authority to approve the amended plan without further review by the Planning Commission.
John Krmpotic (representing the developer; Fry) presented the developer proposal (WC BCC on 5-12-20 PVE Presentation final 2). The properties are zoned Medium Density Suburban (3 dwellings per acre), Low Density Suburban (1 dwelling per acre), and Medium Density Rural (5 acre lots). Their tentative map roughly follows the existing zoning. The sum of all the lots possible under the existing zoning would be 58 dwellings. One must consider that parts of the property are too steep to build on, so the lot map needs to conform. The new design does not include “clustering” so that all the lots conform to the existing zoning. (Following the clustering rules gives the developer more flexibility, but results in smaller lots.) Krmpotic asserted that the redesign was specifically intended to address the two principal concerns regarding the original design which were road access and neighborhood character. If the project is approved now, the construction would likely start in 18-24 months due to uncertainty in the real estate market.
For Public Comment, Lucey received 56 e-mails regarding the project. Residents expressed the following points by voice-mail or by phone. No residents expressed support for the development. Lucey said he received a single e-mail expressing support, but did not identify the sender.
- Rhodes Road is used by pedestrians, horsemen, and cyclists. It is not suitable to support more traffic for this new development. Why not have the main access from Toll Road? (Rhodes Road is a “country lane” with no sidewalks or shoulders.)
- The Rhodes Road bridge would be inadequate for the additional traffic even if it were repaired.
- Chance Lane is unpaved and floods occasionally. The county routinely provides sandbags at this location.
- The development will cause increased flooding for the existing neighbors.
- Fry’s developments have had problems that went unaddressed in the area.
- The Board should uphold the decisions by the Planning Commission and the Citizen’s Advisory Board to deny the project. The Commissioners selected the members of these bodies and should respect their decisions. The Board has consistently sided with the developers rather than the residents.
- The developer did not bring the amended plan to the community for review.
- The amended plan should be returned to the Planning Commission for review as a new proposal rather than proceeding with the appeal.
Lucey expressed concern that this is not “smart development”. This does not address the needs of the housing market and the road access problems have not been addressed. Rhodes Road is “challenged” and not suitable for additional traffic. He is also concerned by the steep road and the regular flooding that occurs. The amended plan does not include sufficient improvements that he would feel comfortable to support it. It may put the onus on the county to fund improvements to support the development.
Hartung agreed with Lucey. He is concerned with the unintended consequences of such developments. The developer should have presented the amended plan to the Planning Commission rather than seeking to incorporate the changes in the appeal. Hartung moved to deny the appeal “with prejudice”. This precludes the developer from going back to the Planning Commission with the same project for a year.
Krmpotic asked the commission not to deny them the opportunity to take it back to the Planning Commission to make further changes and seek Planning Commission approval.
Lucey expressed frustration with Fry’s previous projects that they did not accommodate the interests and concerns of the residents. The issues should be addressed in the development plan rather than appealing to the Board to overturn a denial.
Lucey seconded Hartung’s motion. The vote was unanimous to deny with prejudice. All commissioners voted.