The War on Silver Knolls

The Silver Hills development is a development north and west of the existing Silver Knolls neighborhood. The plan changes the zoning for higher density and builds 1872 homes on 780 acres. It has the common problems of excess traffic, insufficient wildfire evacuation capacity, and school overcrowding. Beyond that, it will be served by the Reno-Stead Wastewater Reclamation Facility known to contribute to the flooding in Lemmon Valley.

  • The zoning amendment was denied unanimously by the North Valley’s Citizens Advisory Board.
  • The zoning amendment was denied unanimously by the Washoe County Planning Commission.
  • The Washoe Board of County Commissioners overturned the Planning Commission denial so that the project could go forward. Commissioners voting “yes” were Berkbigler, Hartung, Jung, and Lucey who all received campaign contributions from the developer: Lissner of Lifestyle Homes.

The Silver Knolls Community Organization (SKCO) filed a writ of mandamus challenging the decision by the County Commission (December 2019). The case was heard by Lynne Simons. Judge Simons ruled for the developer (June 2021).

This case was different. Lissner/Lifestyle then sued the neighbors claiming it was a frivolous suit and seeking compensation for legal expenses. The judge ruled for the developer granting wide latitude. The developer was granted $78k in damages against the neighbors. So, the neighbors not only paid for their attorney, but had to pay the legal expenses of the developer. The judgement was much more than the SKCO had on hand and many times their annual budget. The neighbors sought a settlement to a cost they could afford. Lissner agreed to reduce the cost to $29k with the condition that the SKCO not oppose the tentative map when it comes before the Washoe Planning Commission. The condition does not apply to individuals representing themselves. The settlement was not public, but it was not confidential either.

This is an attempt by developers to intimidate residents from seeking equal protection in the courts and to gag the neighborhood organizations. It is an escalation in the war developers are waging against residents. Peter Lissner is Lifestyle Homes. Such underhanded and vindictive practices reveal the quality of his character and his scorn for the community. Correction: it was Bob Lissner that wanted the judgement for legal expenses against the SKCO not Peter Lissner.

Remember: there is more capacity for new home construction with existing zoning than will be needed for the next 20 years. The rezoning is simply for developer profits.

The Silver Hills tentative map will come before the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday 8/24. You can contact the commissioners to express your opinion of the Silver Hills tentative map.

8 thoughts on “The War on Silver Knolls

  1. Developers don’t care about their customers once they hand over the keys. So lack of infrastructure, inadequate roads, crowded schools are irrelevant. They just don’t care.


  2. Steve – The interesting thing I find is that if developers followed zoning, there would be no reason for public hearing.  The only ones that need to go through the process are ones asking for variances to the established zoning.  I think people need to know that we have zoning and perhaps it needs to be followed without exception or the zoning be revised via the total process not piecemeal.  Just my thought.  Thanks for keeping on top of all this nonsense.  Also, isn’t the sewage capacity over or at its limit in the North Valley?  Wendy Boszak


  3. Hi Steve,
    Do you know why SKCO would be sued by Lifestyle homes when the suit was against the County Commission, not Lifestyle Homes?


  4. Thank you, Steve, for all you, and Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning, do for shedding light on issues that will be affecting Washoe Residents now and in the future. We are not opposed to people who want to share the quality of a Great Basin lifestyle with us, but are greatly concerned when those qualities become stifled, for some residents, to benefit only profit for developers and investors, over responsible planning and growth. We need the appropriate kinds of housing and jobs that truly benefit the people of the community. Many people, including representation by some developers, worked together to create our Regional Master Plan. Override of those responsible growth decisions by “strong-arming” piecemeal rezoning, beneficial only for the exploitation purposes of some, actually can, and have, hurt members of our communities. Our elected officials should not be catering to the influence of developer contributions, lobbying, or enabling coercion by developers. They are elected to represent the benefit to, and welfare of, the citizens of our county. Judges should be impartial. If this is not their goal, perhaps they shouldn’t occupy their seats of power, where they change the lives of people, who have done no wrong and have invested years of maintenance and improvements in their residential areas, with the power of one vote, from them, against those residents. Grant it, developers invest for years in their projects and plans, but those plans should be transparent and in accordance with Regional Plans negotiated with the residents of Washoe County. Claims for benefiting residents should truly reflect verifiable “needs” of the residents of the city and county, not just the “wants” of developers and investors. I noted a statement that stood out to me, made by Reno City Councilwoman, Naomi Duerr, on Nightly News 2 on October 13, 1019, where she stated, “You can’t fix your world and hurt somebody else’s world. That’s just not acceptable.” I think we should hold our County and City officials to that precept. Jan Bishop, Resident of Silver Knolls

    On Mon, Aug 23, 2021 at 5:56 AM Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning wrote:

    > Steve Wolgast posted: ” The Silver Hills development is a development > north and west of the existing Silver Knolls neighborhood. The plan changes > the zoning for higher density and builds 1872 homes on 780 acres. It has > the common problems of excess traffic, insufficient wildfir” >


  5. The commissioners know Silver Knolls is a sustainable community the way it is zoned now…the land lifestyle wants to rezone is one house on forty acres. There is a reason it is zoned for big property and low water use. If a green development came along it would be more interesting to consider.
    The commissioners who oposed the Silver Knolls community are unworthy. They are prostitutes for development.


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