Lakeridge Appeal Denied 4/28/21

Lakeridge neighborhood residents and the Lakeridge HOA appealed the decision of the Planning Commission to approve greatly expanded development on the site of the Lakeridge Tennis Club. The development is now called “6000 Plumas”. The new plan is for 314 condominium units on the 9.3 acre site. After 6 hours, the city council denied the appeal by a vote of 4-3.

There were 37 voice-mail messages for public comment on this issue: 15 were supporting the developer. There were 123 letters supporting the appeal, 8 letters of concern about the development, and 1 letter in opposition to the appeal. Callers made the following points.

  • The project is too many units for that site. It should be cut back to the size of the original plan 130-140 units.
  • The developer should be required to restore the tennis courts and pool as indicated in the original plan.
  • The current plan does not appear to provide sufficient parking for the number of residences.
  • Traffic is already problematic in that area: this development will make it worse.
  • The planned structures are too tall: 4 stories. They should be 2 stories.
  • There is no similar venue for neighborhood functions in the area.
  • This development should match the surrounding neighborhoods that are 2-story (MF-14).
  • Inadequate road capacity in case of wildfire evacuation.
  • The development is not compliant with the Reno Master Plan.
  • Concern about losing the mature trees.
  • Concern about having enough water for the additional residents.

Angela Fuss of the Reno Planning Staff gave a presentation and made these points.

  • There have been 3 versions of this project over time. The previous version was for apartments under the old master plan. This had been appealed and then dropped. The new zoning was implemented in January 2021.
  • The current plan had been for 350 condominium units which was reduced to 314.
  • The current plan is for 8 buildings, all 4 stories tall.
  • The plan includes surface parking and some underground parking: 392 stalls total.
  • The development will access Plumas and Lakeside. There will be a right-turn only exit onto McCarran also. Loren Chilson was the traffic engineer (author of a scandalous traffic study of Daybreak).

Appellant arguments and presentations:

Linda Cross

  • This development is not compatible with the surrounding area: it should be limited to 2 stories.
  • The density is too high
  • The air quality will suffer due to heavy traffic and a lack of vegetation.
  • The utilities may become overloaded.

Margo Piscevich

  • In 1984 the owner of the property agreed to maintain the property and the amenities in perpetuity.
  • The club sold for $8M on a short sale following bankruptcy in 2019.
  • The club was doing fine financially until it was closed due to the pandemic.
  • The developer claimed that the rezoning to commercial was needed to allow the club to operate while 150 housing units were added. The city approved the zoning change.
  • The first plans were submitted that reflected the increase in residential to 350 units to the Planning Commission on April 10, 2020.
  • On May 27, 2020 Lyon Lands razed the property knowing that the development plans were under appeal.
  • Piscevich spoke with Jeremy Smith of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority. He indicated that there is a surplus of housing based on the projected population growth. Zombie projects are an important part of the problem.
  • The city should start over with the project and revise the zoning to build 150 units on that site.

Stephen Topol

  • Topol was the developer for much of the early Lakeridge development.
  • The area has big city problems with the increasing traffic. This includes frequent drunk-driving accidents.
  • The traffic is already bad enough to cause regular delays at the intersections.
  • The covenant from the original construction requires that the landscaping be maintained. This is not happening and Karl Hall (City Attorney) told Topol that it is not the city’s responsibility to enforce it. The landscaping should be maintained: it represents a big investment.
  • The rezoning was from a duplicitous bait-and-switch tactic. The later approval of the tentative map represents “fruit of the poisonous tree” and should be revoked. The developers should start all over again to present a plan compatible with the neighborhood.

Caryn Swope

  • Swope played a video showing the condition of the club shortly before it was demolished. The facility appeared dated but sound.
  • The councilmembers need to understand the issues and address the needs of their constituents as Duerr has.

Nicole Larson

  • The Lakeridge pool means a lot to her. It was an affordable place to swim when she was a child. She became a competitive swimmer and earned a college scholarship based on her ability developed at Lakeridge. Closing the pool represents a loss of opportunity to today’s youth.
  • There is no state tax to pay to replace amenities that are lost such as the pool. Lakeridge had Reno’s only high-dive and only indoor tennis courts.
  • In 2007, the Community Development Department planned 7 new recreational facilities. None of these has been built.
  • The lack of sports and swimming facilities increases the instances of drowning, obesity, and juvenile crime.
  • Larson claimed that Fuss made significant errors both in the original appeal to the Hearing Officer and now with the city council.

Megan Schuster

  • The increase in traffic will increase the risk to her son and husband who are competitive runners. They bought their home specifically to be close to the pool.
  • The new development is not compliant with code in that it does not “Conserve and enhance the character of Reno’s established residential neighborhoods …”.
  • RTC’s plan to add a third lane to McCarran in the future will impact the setback of this development. The setback may shrink to as little as 19′.
  • Larson hired a landscape architect to create the site plan as it would be seen with the development completed. The developer’s rendering used trees that were unrealistically tall and did not show the view from McCarran. Seven mature trees along McCarran will be cut down.
  • The new development will only have a 40′ setback for the 58′ tall buildings. The Lakeridge Tennis Club had a 200′ setback for buildings 20′ tall.

Cindi Chandler

  • The building height was misrepresented by the developer: they claimed it was comparable to the surrounding buildings. This is not compatible with zoning.
  • The staff report to the Planning Commission was misleading in reference to the height of surrounding buildings.
  • Wood Rogers omitted the building height dimensions in their later presentation to the Planning Commission.
  • There is inadequate wildfire evacuation in the neighborhood.

Jim Christoff

  • The new development needs to be compatible with the neighborhood per Reno’s Title 18 and the master plan.
  • The new development is much taller and much denser than the adjacent neighborhoods.
  • The regional plan also emphasizes that neighborhoods need to be preserved.
  • There are 4 traffic signal lights on McCarran between Plumas and Kietzke: it’s only 1 mile.
  • The traffic counts were taken March 11 and 12 the day before the area was shut down due to the pandemic. The Hearing Officer concluded that this traffic data would be “skewed” and “incorrect”.
  • The cumulative effects of nearby developments (including Rancharrah) were not considered.
  • The Lakeside at McCarran intersection already has a “Level of Service” rating of “F”.

Michael Tillbrooke

  • Tillbrooke shared photos from Plumas and McCarran. The property is now a huge eyesore.
  • He shows the on-street parking that is mostly full on Plumas now. This is overflow from an apartment complex that is only 13 units per acre density.
  • There is only on-street parking for 5 vehicles available in front of the new development on Plumas.
  • Reno municipal code only requires 1 parking space per 1,250 sqft of residence space. The new units will be 1, 2, or 3 bedroom units; most are under 1,250 sqft. It appears that the developer made the units small so as to reduce the parking spaces required.
  • The high prices or high rents expected indicate that there will likely be more than one wage earner living in most of these units. The Emory at Red built by the same builder is currently charging $1,555 – $3,235 monthly rent.
  • There are other large developments planned for the area too.
  • RTC considers it a priority to eliminate on-street parking in the area due to the heavy traffic.
  • Tillbrooke offered to take the councilmembers on a tour on a weekday morning to show the current traffic conditions. He would get a bus for this purpose.

Sharon Weiss (her presentation was a video)

  • Chip Bowlby of Reno Land proposed keeping the pool and some of the tennis courts. He got approval for the zoning change and then completely changed the project. It’s a case of bait-and-switch.
  • Reno planning staff discussed the traffic at Plumas and McCarran but did not cover the traffic at Lakeside and McCarran which is already level-of-service-F due to the terrible congestion; in violation of the NDOT standards.
  • She showed the review process step-by-step indicating the misleading and bad-faith efforts on the part of the developer. She quotes Andy Durling of Wood Rogers (developer) for his misleading claims. He claimed that the club amenities would be kept and that the developer would add less than 150 units with the zoning amendment. She quotes Angela Fuss explaining that there were fewer public meetings, but many private meetings between Reno and the developer. Garrett Gordon (developer attorney) apparently lied about the condition of the building and the facilities to justify the demolition.

Weiss_Video

Margaret Crowley

  • She’s a 55-year resident of Reno and sees such developments as eroding the soul of Reno. This project is ugly, generic and soulless detracting from the historic charm and unique character of the city. Reno is becoming the “developer takes all” city.
  • She made the argument that others have made that they are not NIMBY‘s.
  • The councilmembers are responsible to promote what is best for the Reno residents. This appeal gives them an opportunity to do what is right for Reno. The residents are paying attention.

Garrett Gordon gave the developer’s presentation. He made the following assertions.

  • The Lakeridge club was not solvent: the lender was foreclosing on them. It sold as a short sale.
  • The bank could have then sold it to become a Maverick gas station or a 7-11.
  • The property was zoned as suburban mixed use, so it would be allowed 30 units-per-acre density.
  • The General Commercial zoning would have allowed a maximum of 419 units while they are only building 314.
  • The zoning allows 5 stories and 65′ maximum height. These buildings are 4 stories and 55′ high.
  • The development is providing 392 parking stalls when only 325 are required.
  • The development will preserve 257 mature trees (this is disputed). They will plant an additional 238 new trees.
  • The traffic study was conducted during days before the pandemic restrictions were implemented.
  • The developer is providing greater setbacks than required by code; only 10′.

Councilmembers’ questions, comments, and discussion

[The viewer would conclude that the zoning is terrible. Only 1 car allowed per unit and only 10′ setback for 5-story buildings. It sounds like zoning for Manhattan. Remember, the developer requested the zoning change under false pretenses.]

Duerr is concerned about turning into and out of the development. She asked whether the condo’s were to be sold or rented. Fuss indicated that it was up to the developer and not yet determined. Brekhus asked about setbacks, Fuss answered that they would only be 10′ on all sides. Duerr pointed out that when she suggested the rezoning to Community Commercial, it was with the idea that the previous developer (Reno Land) would save some of the Tennis Club and only build 130-140 units. The implication was that she never supported the rezoning to General Commercial. She was not pleased that the site has been mostly graded. The agreement that they would preserve 257 mature trees does not appear to have been met. She understands that watering has been suspended for the mature trees that are left. Duerr gave a presentation at the end of the meeting with her deductions regarding the project.

  • The city council agreed to Community Commercial zoning. There was agreement that they did not want commercial uses on this property.
  • She supported a project with 130 units and a restaurant. The restaurant was the reason for the zoning change.
  • The developer then withdrew the application in 2020 in the face of appeals and criticism.
  • None of the adjacent properties have such high density zoning.
  • In January 2021, Duerr initiated a rezoning to MF-14 (14 units per acre) which would be 130 units and 2-story buildings. MF-14 zoning would provide suitable infill.
  • Staff (under Fuss) recommended to let the process go forward to see the tentative map. The developer submitted a plan for 314 units and 4-story buildings. The planning commission approved this plan.
  • Residents have not been “heard” despite a huge outcry. General Commercial zoning is a maximum not a minimum.
  • There was no public meeting on this project presented by the developer.

Duerr concluded that there were 20 Master Plan policies that were not met by this development. She does not believe that traffic is adequately mitigated. The sidewalk will be right next to the 55 mph traffic lane. She went on with a further list of non-compliances. She suggests directing staff to go back to the Planning Commission with an MF-14 zoning standard and review a new plan.

Brekhus challenged Fuss on the issue of ownership: the city encourages development for home ownership. In this development units may be sold or all rented. The staff did not make any reference to a review of the project to the Reno condominium ordinance. She asked Gordon if there is an analysis of this project for compliance to the condo ordinances. Gordon replied that such an analysis was not required for a tentative map approval. Brekhus disagreed. She went on to assert that the apartments to the south were granted membership in the Lakeridge club, so they have lost their amenities. This access was required for compliance to code when those apartments were built. Gordon claimed that there is no claim to the club amenities from the apartments to the south. She can’t approve the project because it does not comply with code. She sees a number of other issues that indicate it should be denied.

Reese asked Chilson about traffic. Chilson said the left turn lanes would be improved. He went on to say that this part of McCarran is under study for traffic improvements independent of this new development. Chilson asserted that the turn improvements mitigate the traffic impact of the new development. Reese is concerned about the traffic impact. Constituents have contacted him and claimed that the traffic studies were “baked”. Chilson made a vigorous defense of his work. Reese asked Fuss about what the zoning would allow to be built on this site. She answered that it was General Commercial, so it could be retail, office, or a gas station, or a wide variety of businesses. Fuss went on to say that if the site were developed for commercial instead of for residential, it would produce more traffic. Reese is very concerned about inequitable zoning. He thinks the compatibility is satisfactory. He was critical of Duerr’s presentation and provoked a response.

Delgado asked about the traffic improvements. He asked about affordable housing. Fuss explained that this was not an affordable housing project. She added that limited housing stock was driving up prices and that infill development was encouraged to meet the demand for housing. He would like to see the developer support affordable housing construction with a contribution to the affordable housing trust. Delgado suggested $1,000 “per door” contribution by the developer. Gordon said that the developer would agree to that. Duerr made the point that the units will sell in the range of $600,000 to over $1 million.

Schieve said the traffic is “terribly concerning”. She asked Gordon about taking other new developments into account for the traffic analysis. Gordon said they were. Schieve then asked about traffic concerns with a Daniel Doenges of the RTC. There are some safety and capacity concerns in this area. It could be 5 years before any changes are made. Schieve wants to know about accident data in that area. Doenges did not have it available. Schieve went on to ask about the right of way. She made the point that there is no definite plan to widen McCarran at that point. Gordon interjected that their traffic study showed that the developer was mitigating the traffic impact of the development and had incorporated features to make it possible to add a lane. Schieve asked what “level of service F” meant. Chilson told her it means the delay exceeds 80 seconds per vehicle at an intersection. Duerr made the point that there is a long list of road-improvement projects planned that have not even been scheduled. Brekhus pointed out that if the RTC widened McCarran it would come at the expense of other vital projects. Schieve said evacuation for a wildfire is terrifying and not adequately addressed.

Christoff was asked to make a summary comment at the end.

  • He noted that all the callers who left messages in support of the development appeared to be reading off a script (likely written by the developer or his attorney).
  • This is not a walkable neighborhood with no grocery store nearby: everyone will need a car.
  • The units are expensive, so there will be two wage earners needed in most units to pay the mortgage (or rent).

The vote: Duerr moved to support the appeal and to deny the tentative map. Delgado, Reese, Weber, and Jardon voted to deny the appeal. Brekhus, Duerr, and Schieve voted to uphold the appeal (deny the tentative map).

The appellants made impressive presentations. These were clear, logical, and delivered with details and references. The conclusion is inescapable that the councilmembers voting against the appeal reveal their subservience to the developers and the special interests. They appear to have no capacity for shame at their own malfeasance.

REFERENCE

Lakeridge Residents website

AGENDA

Meeting Video (5:48:00 time mark)

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One thought on “Lakeridge Appeal Denied 4/28/21

  1. Pingback: Lakeridge Betrayal | Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning

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