The following is a guest blog submitted by Jim Christoff.
The owner of the Lakeridge Tennis Club decided to sell the property in 2019 to an LLC that included Reno Land working with Wood Rogers. The developer held public meetings regarding their plans and indicated that some of the recreational facilities would be retained on roughly half the property. Club members and neighbors were reassured that the development would be on a suitable scale. Reno Land went on to apply for a zoning change from “Specific Plan District” to “Community Commercial” for greater flexibility. The Reno City Council approved the zoning change on 9/23/19 (minutes see C1). The developer then submitted dramatically different plans including complete demolition of the existing facility and the construction of 350 apartments. This plan was approved by the Reno Planning Department.
Nine individuals appealed the decision of the Planning Department and their appeals were heard by a Hearing Examiner appointed by the city. Many of those appeals claimed that the plans did not meet Reno’s municipal code. The Examiner agreed with the appellants. The developer then appealed to the Reno City Council to overturn the decision of the Examiner and allow the project to proceed. The appeal to City Council was on its agenda for August 26, 2020, and all sides were prepared to argue their cases in front of Council. Hundreds of letters, emails and voicemails were sent to the city in advance from citizens opposed to the project. However, less than 5 hours before the meeting, the developer withdrew their plans and as a result the developer’s appeal was not heard. The developer may have concluded that they would get a more favorable hearing after the November elections.
Appellants claimed that the developer acted in bad faith relative to the neighbors and Club members by using ‘bait and switch’ tactics. As stated by the Hearing Examiner, “Reno Land representatives were clear and almost unequivocal: Reno Land intended to keep key parts of the Club and build apartments on a smaller scale than what has been presented in the SPR before us now.” Over 200 neighbors and Club members had attended the public meetings to see the developer’s plans. This now appears to have been a ruse by the developer in order to induce citizens to accept a change in zoning instead of contesting it during the subsequent Council meeting.
The later plan would put 350 apartments in eight 4-story buildings on the 9.3 acre site. The developer went on to claim that the 350 apartments would generate less traffic than visitors to the Club, estimated by the former general manager to be 100 to 150 visitors daily. This appears absurd. In addition, the development provided only 392 parking spaces for 350 apartments, forcing any additional vehicles to park on adjacent streets.
Lakeridge Tennis Club was once northern Nevada’s largest multipurpose facility, offering year-round indoor and outdoor tennis and swimming as well as a fitness center, aerobics studio, basketball, racquetball, squash, Zumba and pilates. The Club had a dining room open to the public with indoor and outdoor seating offering views of tennis games in progress. It was home to the Lakeridge Swim Team, which trained many future athletes who ultimately became members of the US Olympic Swim Team. Membership was open to anyone and the Club was considered a quasi-public facility because it served the fitness and recreational needs of citizens as well as providing financial assistance and scholarships to those in need.
Once the elections are over, the council members may be less sensitive to the interests of their constituents. At that point the developer may re-submit the plan and pursue the appeal. Stay tuned!
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