This is a guest post submitted by Jim Christoff
6000 Plumas Redevelopment, a.k.a. the Lakeridge Tennis Club Development
My previous blog found here describes the history of the now-vacant lot on S. McCarran near Lakeside that was previously occupied by the former Lakeridge Tennis Club. In brief, developer Reno Land purchased the Club and publicly assured concerned members and neighbors that they would save some of its recreational facilities including a pool and 6 tennis courts and only build about 150 apartments on part of the site. Reno Land then requested Reno’s City Council for a change in zoning to Commercial zoning so that it would be possible under the City’s codes to retain the recreational facilities side-by-side with apartments, stating that the change in zoning would allow them to return the Club “to its former glory”. However, soon after Commercial zoning was granted, the developer demolished the Club, returned to the city’s planning staff and obtained approval to cram 350 apartments into the 9.3 acre site. Nine individuals appealed, slamming the developer’s use of a bait and switch tactic likely intended to avoid objections to the zoning change. An independent Hearing Examiner appointed by the City found in favor of the appellants and overturned the site plans’ approval.
Naomi Duerr, Council Member for Ward 2, gave a presentation during City Council’s January 13, 2021 meeting to request a change in zoning to permit only lower density housing, noting that in her original motion to grant commercial zoning she specifically added that she would initiate rezoning if that original project was not pursued. Duerr outlined reasons why the zoning should be changed from Commercial to MF-14 (Multi-Family-14), which limits developments to 14 housing units to the acre. MF-14 zoning would still allow the developer to build a development to the same density they originally promised and overcome the concerns of most residents. Both planning staff and city attorney Karl Hall found no legal implications with Duerr’s rezoning initiative. However, Council elected to put the rezoning initiative on hold over concerns about violating the open meeting law.
On January 25, 2021, Lyon Living, former partners with Reno Land, submitted plans to the city for a project that was very similar to its original project, with only a slight reduction in the number of housing units (314 instead of 350) and changing its marketing approach from rental apartments to condominiums. However, Reno’s planning staff instead found that the application was “substantially changed” from the original application and recommended that the Planning Commission approve of plans, even though the appearance of the tall and closely-spaced buildings was exactly the same as submitted in the previous site plan rejected by the Hearing Examiner.
The Planning Commission received 134 written comments and voicemails from residents opposed to the project and none from anyone in favor. Strong objections were made over density that wouldn’t match the neighborhood, excessive building heights that are two stories higher than any nearby residences, the inevitable loss of large trees along McCarran that have served to screen the site for years and would now expose the buildings, lack of sufficient on-site parking, increased traffic levels along the already-congested stretch of McCarran, lack of sufficient open space between buildings, and stark building designs that are not compatible with the one and two story residential neighborhood. The Planning Commission noted that these expensive condos would not fulfill any low-income housing needs and admitted that the proposed density would far exceed anything in the area, but voted to approve the project regardless.
Concerned citizens are planning to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to City Council for a hearing expected to occur in April or May. Stay tuned!