The Rancho IV development was denied by the Reno Planning Commission on November 3, 2021. The site is north of Rancho San Rafael Park and west of Parr Blvd. in northern Reno. The developer wants to build 142 homes on the 28 acres. The development will be predominantly duplexes with some triple and quad units. No zoning amendment was requested.
Staff Presentation by Brooke Oswald
- He concluded that the development meets all the code requirements and the staff recommends approval.
Developer Presentation by John Krmpotic
- The key issue of concern to area residents is public access for recreation.
- Residents are concerned about the expected loss of trees. The plan is to remove 19 mature trees and replace them with 38 new trees.
- This project is a continuation following Rancho I, II, and III developments nearby.
- Four parking spots will be provided at the trailhead for public use.
Public Comment contributions (The Planning Commission received 70 e-mails in opposition and several voice-mail messages)
- Wildlife and ecological impacts would be significant. This property is a wildlife corridor.
- The developer tree count is not representative. One resident counted 143 Jefferson Pine trees.
- The views and vistas will be spoiled with this design. It does not meet the “viewshed” standards. It includes building on the ridgelines.
- The Rancho-IV design violates that Reno master plan and can’t be approved as such.
- There is no plan to accommodate wetlands on the property.
- This is an area high in Radon which will likely be increased with the cuts and grading.
- Traffic is already problematic accessing Virginia Street.
- Construction litter will despoil the site and the wetlands. Some of the slopes are too steep to recover the litter.
- Stolz Road is the main access road and it is so congested that two cars can’t pass. A fire engine couldn’t get through.
- Hoge Road is steep and is dangerous when it gets icy.
- Noise echoes at this site. The construction will present a problem for people who work from home.
The meeting was characterized by animosity from the residents toward the commissioners. Reno residents have watched one destructive, irresponsible development after another get approved. Trust in local officials to do the right thing is largely history.
- One resident speaking in opposition to the development asked that his 3-minute time be extended by 30 seconds. This was denied by the chairman (Velto). There was some disturbance in the audience following the denial.
- Velto was challenged by the next speaker to confirm with the city attorney about extending a comment time.
- One resident made the remark “You’ve probably already made up your mind.”
- There was clapping after each speaker despite admonishment by the commission clerk for order.
- There were several remarks from the audience that were not made during public comment and were out of order. One resident was asked to leave.
Planning Commissioner Discussion
- Commissioner Gower asked why there was no traffic study conducted for this development. Oswald replied that the planning staff had reviewed the proposal and concluded that no traffic study was required because the impact would not change the existing “levels of service” (aka LOS).
- Commissioner Gower engaged with the audience and made his case that his decision needs to follow the guidelines and master plan. He is sympathetic to residents who want to preserve the character of their neighborhoods. His decision needs to be based on the formal findings.
- Commissioner Munoz said that the presumption of bad faith on the part of the residents toward the commission was insulting to him. This project is in his ward.
- The commissioners individually recognized the residents present for making the effort to come to the meeting to express their concerns.
- Commissioner Johnson recognized that the master plan and other zoning and policies are sometimes in conflict or lead to ambiguous conclusions so that his role is to try to decide which regulation is most important when making a decision. The master plan is written to support growth and additional housing.
- Commissioner Johnson has trouble making the first finding of the benefit of 142 more homes as opposed to preserving a distinct landscape. Finding #1 concerns “Consistency with the Reno Master Plan”. He is concerned that there are major cuts and fills in order to build the maximum number of homes allowed. Rancho IV is higher on the hillside and much more prominent than the earlier phases I-III.
VOTES: Gower, Velto, and Drakulich “YES”; Johnson and Munoz “NO”; Taylor and Villaneuve were absent. Approval requires four “YES” votes, so the project was not approved.