Ascente and Silver Hills Before BCC

Ascente

A request by Ascente developers to extend their final-map deadline and a request by Silver Hills to approve their tentative map both came before the Washoe Board of County Commissioners 8/24/21.

Lucey abstained due to his relationship with the developer and left the room.

Trevor Lloyd made a presentation.

Hartung made the point that the developer had 4 years to complete the final map. Only 1-1/2 was during the pandemic. He asked the rhetorical question “Why do we even have timelines? I’m vexed. It makes no sense to me why we’re granting an extension when they’ve had 4 years to do this.”

Michael Barnes (developer) claimed that there were many disruptive factors that delayed their plans including the denial of “jumbo loans”, he wanted to use the “save the map with 5 units” process. Key employees have left (hydrologist, landscaping) and they struggled to find engineers to put together the design of the 5 lots. “Our intention is to develop the property out in conjunction with Toll Brothers. Toll Brothers has informed the commissioners by e-mail (below) that they intend to be the partners and build the project out. They fully intend to come forward with final maps for all of the development. Our goal is to come through with Toll Brothers and put together a community. Even county staff has had trouble making time to meet with us due to COVID.”

Toll e-mail:

2021-08-24 Collinsworth Email

Hartung “Is this the first extension for this project or was there an earlier administrative extension?” Lloyd “This is the only extension at this time.”

Hartung “Mr. Barnes, this is not an entry level project that fills a need for affordable housing.” Barnes “That is correct. Toll Brothers is America’s #1 luxury home builder. We’re proud of that. These homes will range from $700k to above $1M.”

Hartung “Why isn’t Tolles Brothers here today giving us their word that this project is moving forward?” Barnes “I apologize that they couldn’t attend, but they did send an e-mail outlining their support for the project.”

Alexis Hill eagerly moved to grant the extension. The proposed agreement will get a second reading on September 28, 2021. There was no vote. [She had received $35,900 in campaign contributions from development interest for the 2020 election; 24% of all contributions.]

There was one e-mail in opposition. No one spoke in opposition.

Silver Hills

Lucey returned to the dais.

The issue is the appeal by the developer of the Washoe Planning Commission decision to deny the tentative map for the Silver Hills development.

Garrett Gordon (Lewis and Roca) presented the Lifestyle Homes appeal.

  • The tentative map is for 358 single family homes (Village #1) of the 1,872 homes that are included in the zoning amendment. It is 66 acres. This tentative map includes homes on 5,000 sqft lots.
  • The tentative map includes the “backbone trail map” as required in their zoning amendment.
  • This tentative map includes higher density development that is balanced by open space so as not to exceed an average of 3 units per acre.
  • Gordon claimed that the tentative map complied with the area plan (this has no basis in fact).
  • Gordon offered a couple of concessions. The houses would be wired “solar ready, electric car ready, and ready for battery hookup”. Further they are offering undefined “innovative amenities” for the common space.

The viewer can’t help but be struck by the very high density of this tentative map. It looks urban in a area zoned for Suburban Rural; 1 home per acre. The effect of their zoning amendment is dramatic.

Roger Pelham from the county planning staff made a presentation.

  • The tentative map is consistent with the area plan (not credible).
  • The designs are supposed to incorporate passive solar design. This requirement has not been met.
  • Staff concluded that the developer met all the findings for approval.
  • This is only a small fraction of the greater plan and does not show how the broader conditions will be met.

Public Comment consisted of one speaker who made the following points.

  • There are only two routes into and out of the neighborhood. A recent evacuation of the area was problematic without these new homes.
  • This project will completely destroy the rural nature of the North Valleys. It is not compatible with the rural nature of the North Valleys.
  • Red Rock Road will need to be widened to 4 lanes.
  • “The Lissner family, Lifestyle homes under different iterations, Robert Lissner, Elaine Lissner, Peter, Cassadee, have collectively bestowed a couple of hundred thousand dollars in buying the influence of the Washoe County Commission and the city councils.”

Board Discussion

Commissioner Jeanne Herman referred to a recent case where a developer sued a private person for speaking against their development causing a lot of grief for that person. She has had a number of her constituents contact her that want to speak in opposition to this project, but they are afraid that they may be sued as well. “You’re not getting the fairest meeting here. One public comment is not representative.” She also expressed concern for the lack of improvement at the Reno-Stead Wastewater Reclamation Facility limiting its ability to handle increased wastewater.

Commissioner Vaughan Hartung claimed that this was an approved use of this property. He addressed the two findings that the Planning Commission decided were not met. One was “plan consistency” and the other was “design or improvement”. He is concerned that the long straight streets will lead to speeding rather than incorporating “traffic calming” features. The county will need to come back at some time and fix this deficiency. The developer is promoting an “agrihood”. Hartung would like to see such gardens distributed around the project. There is no such feature in this first tentative map. Hartung used a term “Mr. Potato Head design”, but he did not define it clearly. Duane Smith (County Engineer) claimed that there is a rigorous process between the approval of the tentative map and the final map. “These types of things will have to be met or the final map will not be approved.” Hartung expressed frustration that these changes are not available for public review. “This is not an innovative design.” He said the parks are too small. “This is not what you told me. What are you going to change with this to make this a better neighborhood?” Gordon claimed that this village conforms to the project “handbook” and that the large 10-acre park will be built by the 500th home. Gordon has offered additional undefined “amenities” and will be happy to work with Hartung to make improvements. Hartung is not happy that the developer appears to be doing the minimum to meet their zoning. Gordon was adamant that the plan did more than meet the minimum requirements. Hartung is not concerned about water: he expects that there will be more than enough available from Honey Lake through the Vidler pipeline.

Commissioner Alexis Hill said that she did not understand the reasons for the denial of the tentative map by the planning commission. Pelham replied that there were area plan policies that were not adequately addressed by this application. Also, the zoning amendment was approved with the condition that multiple housing types were required. This piece only includes the small-lot single-family homes. There was also a condition to include some passive solar elements which are not present in this plan. The street and lot layout does not look like the plan presented for the zoning amendment proposal. Hill went ahead to repeat most of Gordon’s points saying that she doesn’t have a problem with it.

Hartung went on to praise “curb and gutter and sidewalk” features in this development citing the nuisance with maintaining the open ditches used for drainage in rural areas. He went on to praise the developer’s plan to retain water on the property in a 1:1.5 ratio of the volume of the soil brought in to the volume of soil removed.

Commissioner Kitty Jung supports curb and gutter construction and would like to consider requiring these features more broadly.

Commissioner Bob Lucey asked Mike Railey (developer engineer) about their plan to introduce traffic calming features to reduce speeding. Railey replied that such details would be worked out with staff for the final map. “What this is is nothing like what we had the initial discussion about back in October 2019. We felt compelled that this was something that was going to meet the nature of that community.” “What you’ve presented in the tentative map does not represent anything that we’d initially had this discussion about. This is frustrating to me and disappointing to me.” If the board approves this plan, these issues need to be addressed. Curb-and-gutter construction brings additional maintenance cost to the county. “I’m disappointed that we’re talking about a tentative map that doesn’t look anything like what we initially discussed.” He hopes that the developer has heard the comments and concerns with the board and will move forward effectively to implement changes.

Commissioner Hill moved to overturn the decision of the planning commission and approve the tentative map as requested by the developer. The commission voted to overturn the decision of the planning commission with Jung, Hill, Lucey, and Hartung voting in the affirmative. Commissioner Herman voted “no”.

The issue raised during public comment of the ethical compromise that the commissioners make by accepting the developer money was studiously ignored by the commissioners. There was no defense of the current practice nor any admission that it is problematic. An observer might conclude that the commission accepts that it is a corrupt body.

MEETING VIDEO (jump to item 16 for Ascente, item 17 for Silver Hills)

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.

Ascente Requests an Extension 8/24/21

On Tuesday, Barnes and the NNV1 partners will request an extension to the deadline to submit their final map for Ascente. The statute is that the developer has 4 years from the time of tentative map approval to submit the final map for the project. The Board of County Commissioners denied the appeal of the Planning Commission decision on August 8, 2017. The final map deadline was 8/9/2021. The developer submitted a final map for 5 of the 225 homes. This final map has nonconformances that preclude its approval. The developer is requesting a two-year extension to August 9, 2023. The way to skirt the legal deadline is to form a “Joint Development Agreement” with Washoe County to retroactively extend the deadline for the final map. This is the proposal before the County Commission. Readers may recall that District 2 Commissioner Lucey recused himself from the voting on the appeal by the neighbors due to his close ties to this developer.

The Ascente developer did not meet his legal obligations under Nevada law and is seeking a retroactive extension from the County Commission. Neighbors have a chance to express their opinion about this.

The Board of County Commissioners meeting will start at 10:00 AM on 8/24/21. The Ascente agreement is item 16 on the agenda. It is not clear how early they will address this item. You can send comments to the commissioners and to the county clerk. The comment tallies and the comments themselves will become part of the record.

Commissioners:

Bob Lucey

Vaughan Hartung

Alexis Hill

Jeanne Herman

Kitty Jung (she has no official email)

County Clerk

Vision for Mount Rose Highway 2021

Representatives from the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) made a presentation to area residents on 8/10/2021 at the Tamarack Casino in South Reno. Easels were provided with graphics showing parts of the highway from Douglas Fir down to South Virginia St (Old 395). The apparent goal was to consider which vision should be selected for the long term improvements.

  1. The “Suburban Parkway” would have a sunken median of soil preserving a more natural style and use traffic circles at Callahan and possibly Edmonton. This would include a “shared use” pedestrian/bicycle path on each side of the highway.
  2. The “Urban Arterial” would have a concrete median and use signal lights at the intersections. It would have curbs and gutters and look like the city. This would include a “shared use” pedestrian/bicycle path on each side of the highway.

One possible choice would be to have the Suburban Parkway style from Bordeaux to Thomas Creek and then the Urban Arterial from Thomas Creek to South Virginia Street. This would put a traffic circle at the Callahan Road intersection and a light at the Edmonton intersection.

There was another vision that the NDOT staff abandoned early. This would flank the highway with frontage lanes so that smaller intersections would not cross the through lanes.

Jae Pullen (NDOT Project Manager) said that there are short term solutions for the Callahan and Edmonton intersections that did not need to wait for the expansive vision to be implemented.

Callahan Road would get raised traffic islands and a full length deceleration lane for downhill traffic turning right onto Callahan. The traffic islands would allow Callahan traffic to reach the edge of the intersection before making a left turn (uphill) or straight into Monte Vista. It would be a shorter distance to turn left from Callahan onto Mount Rose Highway with better visibility. A center barrier would also be provided along Mount Rose Highway in the vicinity of the intersection.

Edmonton would get a “High-T” intersection that would allow for left turns out of Edmonton onto Mount Rose Highway. This is a complicated arrangement of islands and dividers that would give left turning Edmonton traffic a protected merge lane after crossing the downhill traffic lanes. There would also be fencing to keep out deer and other wildlife from crossing the highway.

There was a lively question and answer session that brought out the following facts.

  • NDOT plans to make the new lanes narrower: 11′ wide instead of the current 12′ wide. This will discourage freeway speeds. The 12′ width is the federal standard for freeways.
  • No dates were given for any of these improvements. Some attendees speculated that NDOT was hoping to get new federal infrastructure funds.
  • NDOT is using an analytical model that extends to 2050. It presumes continued new development based on zoning that would include Terrasante and Ascente.
  • The Douglas Fir intersection to the South Virginia Street intersection is about 7.5 miles.
  • There is a problem of speeding motorists on Mount Rose Highway. NDOT does not have a plan to address this.
  • The NDOT plans presented in December 2018 included various “traffic calming” measures. This is not part of the current plan which has new staff and a new mission. The 2018 effort was just a “road safety assessment”.
  • NDOT is evaluating the circle at Veterans Parkway for ways to improve it to increase its capacity.
  • NDOT might consider a pedestrian overpass across Mount Rose Highway depending on what configuration is selected.
  • The intersection of the 580 NB offramp and Mount Rose Highway is dangerous and will need a signal light.
  • Pullen was insistent that the Callahan intersection did not meet any of the requirements to have a signal light despite the hazard there.

NDOT will have an online survey the residents can access and respond to till September 10.

Meeting Video

Daybreak Tentative-Map Appeal 7/21/21

The Reno City Council denied appeals to four tentative map approvals by the Reno Planning Commission. The Daybreak project was approved for a zoning change and a master plan amendment. This is a first step that defines the number of homes and the major characteristics of the development. These changes were challenged at the regional planning board, the city council, and went to court as well. The next step that gets public review is the tentative map approval. This is a plan in greater detail showing lots and streets and drainage easements and information on the utilities. These represent 153 homes; a small fraction of the Daybreak Project (4,000 homes). Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus filed an appeal to these tentative maps that was heard by the city council on 7/21/21. Councilmember Duerr joined remotely. Councilmember Jardon was not present.

There was no public comment with one e-mail received supporting the appeal.

Angela Fuss, Reno Planning Manager, gave the planning staff presentation.

  • Discussed the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process for “Village Parcels” where the homebuilder creates the tentative map rather than the developer. Fuss said both “tentative map process” and “parcel map process” making her argument ambiguous.
  • Fuss claimed that the PUD handbook is specific about assigning responsibilities and that it is sufficient.

Planning-Presentation_Daybreak_Tentative-Map_Appeal_072121

Michael Pagni (Daybreak attorney) challenged Brekhus’ standing to bring these appeals. Karl Hall (City Attorney) concluded that Brekhus did have standing to appeal.

Councilmember Brekhus made her appeals.

  • Fuss was really confusing the issue. The developer is taking a novel approach, sequential parcel-map, that lacks merit or precedent. “You can’t be doing two subdivisions on the same land at once.”
  • She used the example of the Double Diamond development where the follow up on the master developer did not occur. There were contentious issues at the end that went to court. She contrasted this with the Damonte Ranch development that had a detailed plan and consistent “build out” over many years without big issues. Ambiguities in the Daybreak plan could leave the city responsible for infrastructure improvements that should be the responsibility of the developer.
  • Brekhus played an extended portion of the Reno Planning Commission meeting. The planning commissioners were not familiar with how this should work.
  • This is similar to the questionable process that was used for the Stonegate development. At this point, Stonegate has both parcel maps and tentative maps in a way that is redundant. The Stonegate developer tried to get the Nevada law changed to allow his scheme, but he failed. Fuss’s argument that the county does sequential parcel-map process is misleading since the county does not use this for subdivisions.
  • The Daybreak developer has made their tentative map and then pulled parcels from it where their tentative map doesn’t apply. You cannot do both parcel maps and tentative maps for the same development: it’s one or the other. “This process is crazy.”
  • You have to encompass the entire property in your tentative map.
  • The Daybreak zoning-change approval stipulated that there be a detailed process to develop the tentative maps. This process has never been presented.
  • The CLOMR** is not done which reviews the flooding risk. The development may be subject to late changes depending on the flooding risk. Who will be responsible for changes that will likely be required by the CLOMR.

Public comment: two residents present supported the appeal.

Pagni gave the developer’s presentation.

  • He claimed that the PUD is compliant with code requirements and allows the “sequential parcel map” process. Multiple parcel maps are permitted. “Nothing is improper in this process.”
  • Tentative maps and parcel maps can occur simultaneously.

Developer-Presentation_Daybreak_Tentative-Map_Appeal_072121

Council questions:

Councilmember Reese:

  • Reese asked Hall about the involvement of his office in reviewing such projects. Hall said his office reviews projects before they go to the Reno Planning Commission including this one. Hall went on to assert that the PUD handbook assigns responsibility so that the city does not end up paying for infrastructure that the developer should have built. Hall said the problems at Double Diamond had to do with maintaining drainage ditches and that the city did not end up paying for this.

Councilmember Duerr:

  • Has the 404 permit (flood suitability) been issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. Answer “No”.
  • What is the scale of the parcel map: is it an individual home? Fuss “A parcel map is a process that allows a parcel to be divided into up to 4 sub parcels. It can be divided repeatedly by subsequent steps, but these require public review.”
  • Why doesn’t the developer make independent tentative maps for each section that they want to sell? Pagni “We needed to make the new parcels that match the tentative maps that we want to sell to builders.”
  • Pagni claims this is a “standard” process, but the planning commissioners had to study the details to understand it.
  • Duerr is concerned that the flood control design may not be retained as the development is divided into new pieces.
  • She asked Brekhus about her concerns. Brekhus replied that the CLOMR is likely to come back with conditions that require changes that have not been anticipated. If the parcels have been divided and potentially sold, who is responsible to implement the changes required by the CLOMR? The descriptions and conditions are too broad and need to be much more specific and binding. Duerr is concerned that by separating the parcels we are losing accountability.

Councilmember Weber

  • She made the argument that the Daybreak approval process has already been going on three years. It was not a rushed process as Brekhus claimed. “Time is money” and we need to consider the expense that the process has caused the developer.

Mayor Schieve

  • To Brekhus “What is your understanding of the PUD process? It seems to be different than Pagni’s understanding of the process.” Brekhus “I don’t believe it is true that the PUD can be modified. Tentative maps are required after the parcel map division which Pagni says aren’t required. The parcel map process requires all the analysis and review that is required for tentative maps. The project should be returned to the planning commission so that the agreement can be reviewed and the developer can provide a briefing on the process that was requested by Planning Commissioner Marshall.” Pagni claimed that the developer had an informal agreement with the planning department and that this was sufficient.

The votes …

Delgado moved to deny the appeal by Brekhus for item #1, Weber, Reese, Schieve, and Delgado voted in favor, Duerr was opposed. Brekhus could not vote as the appellant.

Delgado moved to deny the appeal by Brekhus for item #2, Weber, Reese, Schieve, and Delgado voted in favor, Duerr was opposed. Brekhus could not vote as the appellant.

Delgado moved to deny the appeal by Brekhus for item #3, Weber, Reese, Schieve, and Delgado voted in favor, Duerr was opposed. Brekhus could not vote as the appellant.

Delgado moved to deny the appeal by Brekhus for item #4, Weber, Reese, Schieve, and Delgado voted in favor, Duerr was opposed. Brekhus could not vote as the appellant.

**Conditional Letter of Map Revision is a FEMA document addressing hydrologic, hydraulic, and flood issues for a proposed development.

REFERENCE

Staff-Report_Daybreak_Tentative-Map_Appeal_072121

Planning-Presentation_Daybreak_Tentative-Map_Appeal_072121

Appeal-Documents_Daybreak_Tentative-Map_Appeal_072121

Meeting Agenda

Meeting-Video

Lakeridge Betrayal

Here’s a summary of the principal points of the Lakeridge development that should be of interest to any Truckee Meadows resident. It is a story of deception and betrayal. The residents’ appeal was denied on April 28, 2021

The basic problems …

  • Many residents moved to that neighborhood because of the Lakeridge Club. It offered important amenities and a community hub. The developer has demolished all the facilities.
  • The intersection of McCarran and Plumas already has problematic traffic. This was highlighted when residents were fleeing the recent Pinehaven Fire. Adding 314 condos will compound the problem.
  • The plan will only provide 392 parking spaces for 314 units. it will provide only one parking space for most of the units. There is almost no on-street parking available in the neighborhood.
  • The 57′ high buildings will tower over the neighborhood.

The process was a blatant “bait and switch” approach by the developer.

  • The developer proposed a plan that would put 130 condos in 2-story buildings on part of the property leaving the pool, the clubhouse, and some of the tennis courts.
  • 2019; The developer claimed to need to get community-commercial zoning so that they could build a restaurant to “support the balance sheet of the property”. The city council agreed unanimously. Councilmember Duerr (it’s her Ward) made the change conditional on the developer moving forward promptly. If the plan was not implemented, Duerr would move to rezone the area to MF-14 (multi-family, 14 units per acre, 2-story).
  • The developer revised the proposal to raze the entire property to build 350 condos in packed, 4-story buildings. There would be no amenities and no restaurant. This faced a broad outcry and was withdrawn by the developer.
  • June 2020; Nine residents appealed to a Hearing Officer who ruled the plan non-compliant for excess traffic and inadequate parking.
  • January 2021; Duerr moved to change the zoning to MF-14 similar to surrounding properties. The City Attorney suggested that she postpone this motion. The planning staff suggested that Duerr “wait and see” what the developer proposed next.
  • January 2021; Reno consolidated the different commercial zoning categories into just one: General Commercial that allows for large facilities with high traffic.
  • The developer took a new plan to the Reno Planning Commission for 314 condos with few road improvements and few amenities. The planning commission approved this plan.
  • 4/28/21 Nine Eighteen residents made an appeal to the city council to overturn the approval. The appeal was logical, detailed, and clearly argued. The conclusions were inescapable. The appeal was denied on a 4-3 vote.

These perpetrators contributed to despoiling the neighborhood and endangering public safety.

  • Councilmember Delgado who received $144,775 in development-interest contributions (January 2011 to July 15, 2020)
  • Councilmember Jardon who received $190,756 in development-interest contributions (January 2012 to July 15, 2020)
  • Councilmember Reese who received $108,200 in development-interest contributions (February 2019 to July 15, 2020)
  • Councilmember Weber who received $103,700 in development-interest contributions (January 2018 to July 15, 2020)
  • Lyon Living management; intent on destroying the quality of life for residents for $$.
  • Andy Durling (developer; Wood Rogers) who presented the bait-and-switch deception.
  • Garrett Gordon (developer attorney) who argued that the development met the zoning standards.
  • Angela Fuss (Reno staff) who worked with the developer and advised Duerr not to remove the commercial zoning.
  • Karl Hall who advised Duerr to delay changing the commercial zoning.
  • Loren Chilson (traffic engineer) who claimed that the development would improve the traffic at those intersections.

Along with the residents, Councilmember Duerr was betrayed by those listed. Her pleas for good-faith consideration of concrete issues and “hearing” the constituents drew an angry retort from Reese.

Brekhus on Verdi and Development 5/18/21

Last week, Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus sent out an e-mail newsletter to her constituents and to others in the broader community.

She made the following points about Reno.

  • Growth and development in the area is “off kilter”. It is increasingly confrontational with a “winner takes all” character. Previous growth periods did not include such heightened conflict.
  • The Reno Planning Commission is responsible for development and planning decisions. These decisions can be appealed to the city council. Many projects are now getting appealed to the city council indicating that someone is not happy with the planning commission’s decisions.
  • Too many projects are even going to the courts when the city council decision is found unacceptable. Most disturbingly, citizens who were involved in the decisions are not included in the court procedures. The delay and uncertainty pose their own problems.
  • This is due to several reasons.
    • Reno has had 3 city managers in 8 years and has not been consistently well managed including staff turn-over.
    • There has been poor infrastructure planning. It has been haphazard and developer-driven.
    • The development interests have outsized influence because they are the primary financing sector of local elected office holder’s campaigns. Money is an influencer in political decision making (including elected judges). It is difficult to win local office without developer campaign contributions.

Regarding Verdi …

  • Verdi has its own unique community identity.
  • This community was put on its current trajectory of becoming west Reno, in 2002 with the adoption of the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan.
  • The regional planning agency (TMRPA) was formed in 1989 by the Washoe County Commission with the apparent idea that Washoe County would follow the Clark County model with populous pockets of unincorporated lands. It was a counter response to the Reno City Council that was embarking upon legitimate and reasonable growth management steps.
  • “The most notable update was the 2002 plan. At that time, Reno that was led by a growth friendly Council had begun to flex muscle in deploying some of the favorable laws that allow Reno be in the driver seat for regional growth allocation. With tables turned, Washoe County objected to Reno’s expansion ideations. When it was all said and done, the Washoe County Commission sued the Regional Planning Agency over the plan content.”
  • Under Judge Hardesty, area landowners were able to get what they wanted through a series of settlement conferences. The landowners were able to get about 7,000 acres incorporated into the city with zoning for over 3,000 residential units plus industrial and commercial projects.
  • In a remarkable outcome, Hardesty forged a settlement that rezoned these mountainous, semi-rural lands for development absent technical analysis of the suitability of such development. The plan should have been a template for a reimagined public process with the identification of land uses and programming for infrastructure, but this was cast aside in a closed-door scheme.
  • Brekhus opposed the West Meadows Estates development and later plans due to inadequate road capacity and Reno’s inability to provide fire and police services. Unfortunately, all were approved by the city council.
  • Brekhus wants to see a plan to “knit together the hodge-podge that Verdi has become”. She’s repeatedly asked for a joint city/county area plan, but there is no interest in doing this. Verdi only gets attention when another landowner wants to take advantage of one of Hardesty’s entitlements.

Brekhus closes with “I envision a plan that would build upon the compact community character of old town Verdi and promotes investment in that core area and the immediate surrounds. Bike, pedestrian and local roadway connections to old town should be improved and warehousing truck traffic routes clearly delineated. Other community needs that have not been adequately addressed like open space connections and sewer line extensions should also be evaluated.” She thinks that a comprehensive plan is still possible.

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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Terrasante Rising

Approved at the end of the last real-estate boom in 2006, the Terrasante project (previously called Callamont) appears to have new life in it. It is a 395 acre property with a plan to build 210 homes located at the south end of the Callahan Road off of the Mount Rose Highway. Reliable sources say that the builder will be Toll Brothers. The county records still show that it is owned by Gateway LC that bought the property in 2009. The addition of over 200 homes will have an impact on the residents along Callahan Road.

Workers are now marking the routes for sewer and utility service: they told a neighbor that the Toll Brothers would be building the development. This is an old plan: it’s a zombie project. It has had its deadline for “final map” submission extended many times by a county commission and planning department eager to support development. The deadline for the final map submission is intended to avoid this problem of a project that met the county requirements 15 years ago to be built now with no updated review. It also does not consider other development projects that have been approved in the area that will have cumulative impacts. Changes to the plan will require that the plan go back to the Washoe Planning Commission for review and approval, but some changes are allowed during the detail design of the final map. There is no requirement for public review or disclosure. The process happens within the planning department working with the developer.

Mount Rose Commercial Center Coming

The Reno Planning Commission will consider a plan to develop the property across the Mount Rose Highway ( Rt.431) from the Summit Mall on April 21, 2021. The meeting starts at 6:00 PM. This property is on the south side of 431 next to the Ormat geothermal power plant and the Waste Management transfer station. It is an 88-acre property made up of several parcels. This property is considered part of the “Reno Sphere of Influence”, so the development decisions will be through the Reno Planning Commission and the Reno City Council. It is an exception to the general rule that the city’s entitlement ends at 431.

The developer, Pannatoni, intends to sell parcels that others will build on “to suit” or “to spec”. The plan is to include neighborhood commercial (like dry cleaners), restaurants, and some residential. Some parcels will include 24-hour businesses. These will be located closest to the 431/Virginia St. (Old 395) intersection. There is no plan to build a casino: some businesses my install slot machines. One major investor is adamant about not building a casino. There is no position on Marijuana business: that would require a special permit from the city in any case.

Councilmember Duerr hosted a remote meeting for this presentation with Andy Durling of Wood Rogers on 3/29/21. Several questions and concerns were raised.

  • Traffic: there is no plan to add another traffic light. The main entrance will be opposite the Summit Mall utilizing Herz Drive. There will be another entrance uphill on 431 which will be right-in and right-out only (like Edmonton). There will also be two entrances from Old 395. One will be right-in and right-out only. The second will be right-in and right-out and left-in with no signal. The concern is that we will see what is happening at Edmonton where some motorists make a dangerous, illegal left turn to go up the hill. The car speeds exceed 50mph: misjudgments are deadly.
  • Stormwater Drainage: the property will produce excess drainage due to the soil compaction and the paving. The Steamboat Ditch will be retained and improved with features to capture silt. The developer claims that the project will incorporate features to mitigate the runoff so that there is no net increase after the development is complete. Residents may remember that in Lemmon Valley roughly half the storm-water retention features were not built to code.
  • Billboards: two billboards presently on the property would be removed. The sign companies may relocate them elsewhere in Reno. It is not known what signage the new development would have.
  • Wildlife: the developer will get a survey completed and approved by NDOW. There is concern about the Steamboat Buckwheat habitat. The developer plans to leave this area undisturbed. There is also concern that 99% of the Monarch Butterfly habitat in the West has been destroyed.

See the developer’s presentation for additional detail.

See recorded meeting notes.