Reno Approves Meridian 120-N Extension

The developer did not met the deadline to submit their final map for phase-3 of the Meridian-120 North development.  For Reno there is a 4-year deadline from the time the tentative map is approved until the completed final map is submitted to the city.  The final map needs to show how the new development will meet all the conditions of acceptance at a detail level.  Neighbors appealed the Planning Commission decision to extend the deadline for the final map submission on Wednesday 12/4/2019.

The appellants made the following points.

  • The developer misrepresented the project from the outset.
  • The original plan stipulated that the TMWA would annex the project and provide surface water for its needs.
  • The plans to provide surface water are not in place: TMWA plans to provide some ground water initially and transition later to the surface water.
  • This final map is late because it cannot meet the conditions for approval.

The applicant made a presentation to refute the points made by the appellants (neighbors).

  • The Meridian-120 North plan is not only compliant with the old master plan in effect when it was submitted but also with the newer Re-Imagine Reno plan.
  • The final maps for phases 1 and 2 were approved, so there is no reason to use a different standard for phase 3.
  • The precedent for development is that the infrastructure is not usually available at the very beginning of construction.

Discussion on the dais;

  • Brekhus asked why the developer needs this extension.  The answer was that the TMWA acquisition required changes to the project that caused delays.
  • Brekhus would like to see a joint Reno/Washoe plan for the area.  The piecemeal approval of one final map at a time is problematic.
  • Duerr asked what TMWA’s plan was to provide surface water.  Fuss (Reno) answered that the surface water would be phased in.  There will be an all-new water line that will provide partly surface water.  Duerling (developer) said that the project shouldn’t be interrupted with 73 homes built or under construction.
  • Schieve made the point that the residents are at a disadvantage since the city will make planning decisions while the residents live outside the city in the unincorporated county.  So, the residents are having decisions made by officials who do not represent them.
  • Duerr thinks that TMWA should be able to provide surface water for this development by now.  But, the only issue before the council is whether to grant this extension not a broader review of the project.

Public commenters made the following points.

  • Much has changed in this area since this project was approved in 2016.  Issues of police coverage, fire coverage, school capacity, traffic, and evacuation capacity have all changed for the worse in the mean time.
  • Ground water levels have dropped substantially affecting many homeowners depending on wells.
  • The special use permits for clustering and for large “cuts and fills” (grading) require regional approval.  Regional approval was never obtained.
  • Improving the inadequate Garson overpass depends on developer contributions.  These are woefully inadequate for this project.  The developer should pay impact fees for this improvement.
  • Surface streets should be improved to the standards specified in the Mortensen-Garson special district.

The council voted to approve the extension 6-1 with Brekhus as the sole “no” vote.

Coffee with Devon Reese

Devon Reese met Valerie Truce and Steve Wolgast for coffee Friday morning.  This was partly an opportunity to understand his vote supporting the Daybreak development (after the developer sued the city) and partly an opportunity to get to know him.  Since he was appointed rather than elected, he did not introduce himself to the voters.

Council member Reese made the following assertions.

  • While the neighbors of Wards 2 & 3 were persuasive, he heard from other people who wanted to have the project move forward.  He didn’t tell us who those were who did not express themselves in public.  Devon also stated he had many comments on form letters from those who don’t live in Reno.  He said it was a “balancing act” to judge all the comments he’d received.
  • Reese thinks information isn’t adequately shared on issues before the city council meetings.  Since the Open Meeting Law prohibits the council from meeting in private, he feels like information comes out as a surprise at public meetings.
  • He encouraged the neighbors’ activism claiming that their advocacy had a significant impact on Daybreak.  The number of homes was reduced.  There will be more open space.  Less building in the most sensitive area for drainage.
  • He thinks that Planned Unit Development (PUD) approvals should expire.  He does not like to see zombie projects that remain on the books long after their approval.
  • Reese expects the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA reviews of Daybreak will force additional changes which will likely improve it.
  • Reese has confidence in the engineering reports even though these are paid for by developers and have been frequently called into question.  He has faith in human nature that engineers would not produce a misleading report for a client.
  • Reese doesn’t think it was an ethical lapse to hire Angela Fuss from a developer to head Reno’s planning department.  He is confident she is working in the best interests of the city.
  • Reese claims that there are many bad projects that never get to the city council and that the council doesn’t have a record of consistently approving questionable projects.
  • He does not think the other city council members are motivated by campaign contributions or other venal motives.  He would not be swayed by a developer who contributed $500 to his campaign.  He said “Developers are the only ones contributing to local campaigns.”
  • He is motivated to serve in public office as a matter of public service.  He wants to build bridges and form consensus.  He wants to improve the quality of life for area residents.
  • He will stand for election in 2020 for this “at large” city council seat.  He expects to run an expensive campaign that might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • He will continue his legal practice if elected.  His practice involved union suits.

Valerie is hopeful:

  • Reese stated he values science.
  • Reese stated he believes in public service.
  • Reese stated, “I build bridges and find common ground.”
  • Reese is opposed to renewing the zombie projects indefinitely.
  • Citizen activists need to remind Reese of those words. It’s important they align with his actions.

Steve is skeptical.

  • Who are all the “people” that contacted him in favor of Daybreak?  It is unlikely that they were residents seeking to buy a home in a floodplain.  Any calls he got in support of Daybreak were likely from developers, builders, realtors, and others with a financial stake.  Steve had a flashback to President Nixon claiming that there was a “silent majority” supporting the Vietnam war.
  • As an experienced attorney and a politician (he ran for Nevada Senate in 2016), his faith and confidence in human nature is hardly credible.  He was dismissive of specific examples of fraudulent traffic and hydrology reports.  He wants the neighbors to prove the fallacy of the engineering reports to him, rather than take a skeptical view himself.  His legal skepticism seems directed toward the neighbors.
  • He encourages neighbors to continue to advocate through the “public comment” time in meetings and by contacting council members.  The implication is that he does not want them to take more direct action to effect change.  This works for the status quo which is to say it works for the developers.
  • He might not be swayed by a developer who contributed $500 to his campaign.  But, he might well be swayed by the developers as a whole denying his campaign tens of thousands in contributions if his decisions aren’t seen as “favorable”.
  • The development projects that go to the Neighborhood Advisory Boards and the Citizens Advisory Boards generally go to the Planning Commission.  It is implausible that there are many bad projects that are secretly denied.

“There are conditions of blindness so voluntary that they become complicity.”      Paul Bourget, 1892

Council member Reese is new to the city council, so there’s little to use as a basis to understand him.  He may be a complex person with deeply held views whose actions are hard to interpret.  If you assume that he is an ambitious politician who seeks contributions from developers to win an expensive election, then his votes make sense.  This also explains his criticism of council members who are skeptical of developer claims.

PS Reese has since joined the new Reno office of the Las Vegas law firm of Hutchison and Steffen practicing primarily in area of civil litigation.

Stonegate and other news 11/8/19

Tuesday 11/5/19 Washoe County/Reno Joint Meeting

The Reno City Council and the Washoe County Commission had a joint meeting to decide a zoning change to a single property in the “Reno/Stead Corridor”.  The 1-acre property is behind the Shell station at the corner of Lemmon Drive and Buck Drive.  The request was to rezone it from medium-density suburban to general commercial.  The joint meeting was required because the property is in Washoe County but within Reno’s “sphere of influence”.  It seemed like a big production to decide the fate of a single parcel.  As part of the change, the county had to make a “regulatory zone amendment” for the property.  This required a minimum of three commissioners to vote “yes”.  Commissioners Hartung and Berkbigler voted “yes” while Commissioner Herman voted “no” due to concerns about increased storm run off.  Commissioners Jung and Lucey were absent and not participating by phone.  Chairman Hartung had the county manager call Lucey at home in order to record his vote.  Lucey voted “yes” by phone, and Hartung declared the motion passed.  This appears to be a violation of the Open Meeting Law in the Nevada Revised Statutes.  Commissioner Lucey was not recorded as “present” at the beginning of the meeting, so he should not be permitted to participate after the vote was held.

AGENDA          VIDEO

Wednesday 11/6/19 Reno City Council

The city council denied an appeal to the decision by the Reno Planning Commission to approve the construction of two water tanks by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority on Forest Service land.  The purpose is to support the massive Stonegate development using water from Honey Lake via the Vidler Pipeline.  The appellant (DeMartini) believes the volume of water to be provided to Stonegate through these tanks will upset the water balance in Cold Springs.  The water for Stonegate is not included in the analysis done by the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commission.  It is not included in the comprehensive water-plan process.  Council member Brekhus was the only one opposed.

AGENDA          VIDEO

Wednesday 11/6/19 Silver Knolls

A hundred neighbors packed the Red Rock fire station for a meeting of the Silver Knolls Community Organization.  Their board approved working with a local attorney to file a writ of mandamus against Washoe County.  The commission had overturned the decision of the Washoe Planning Commission to deny the Silver Hills development.  The writ of mandamus is a relatively generic complaint that the plaintiffs were denied due process or “equal protection under the law”.  Attendees had a number of questions, but no apparent discord.

Thursday 11/7/19 Stonegate

The Reno Planning Commission reviewed the first tentative map for the first phase of the massive Stonegate development.  Only a few neighbors showed up but the familiar development promoters all did: Pagni (lawyer for Daybreak), Barnes (developer), Huggins (developer’s planner), Enloe (TMWA), and Smith (county engineer).  Arlo Stockham represented the planning department.  Perhaps even the city was embarrassed at the thought of having Fuss involved with a project she had recently promoted before being hired by the city.

During public comment, Michael DeMartini spoke about his concerns regarding water.  #1: The project brings a lot of water into a closed basin in a pipeline costing $14M.  The Western Regional Water Authority has not yet reviewed the impact this will have.  #2: The water rights are inadequate to support this volume of water.  #3: The mitigation is inadequate.  The water table is too high for retention ponds to be effective.  A second speaker said that he got notification from his home insurer that his home was now in a flood plain due in part to expected development.

A couple of points raised during questioning …

  • Some of the lots will be as small as 2400 sqft with only 5′ deep back, front, and side yards.  One side will be “zero lot line” where the wall of the home is part of the fence.
  • The development will be served by the Cold Springs Water Reclamation Facility
  • Flood mitigation volume to be 1.3X the expected runoff.
  • Cold Springs didn’t flood last year, but the water level was worrisome.
  • Homes will be built with fire sprinklers until the fire station is built.
  • No construction will start until the water-supply pipeline is built; likely in a year.
  • No builder has yet been identified for this first phase.

The city’s planner (Heather Manzo) seemed very friendly with Ms. Huggins.  It does not give the attendees confidence that the project got an impartial review.

The discussion on the dais …

  • Gower is concerned about the air pollution resulting from the dense development.  He doesn’t think the fire protection plan is adequate.  He thought the Planned Unit Development for Stonegate should be amended rather than using a variance to allow the small lots.
  • Olivas is concerned about the maintenance of the detention basins and is also opposed to the use of a variance.
  • Johnson is not satisfied that the project is compatible with surrounding uses or that it is in conformance with the master plan.

The votes …

  • Approving the tentative map (5-1): Velto, Taylor, Hawkins, Johnson, Olivas approving; Gower opposing.
  • Approving the Special Use Permit (6-0): unanimous
  • Approving the Variance for the small lot homes (3-3 fail): Velto, Taylor, Olivas approving; Gower, Johnson, Hawkins opposing.

The tentative map includes the small-lot homes which were excluded when the variance was not approved.  Does this mean that the tentative map is not approved?

PS I got clarification from the Reno planner (Manzo) that the variance was only for the landscaping requirements for the small-lot properties.  The small lots are allowed as part of the tentative map.  The developer will need to landscape the setbacks per the existing code.

AGENDA          VIDEO          Developer Presentation          Staff Presentation

Thursday 11/7/19 Pleasant Valley

The South Valleys’ Citizens Advisory Board reviewed a request to repair a bridge on Rhodes Road.  It has been reduced to one-lane due to damage.  Neighbors raised the following concerns.

  • Traffic flow is poor, and the signs are obstacles to safe passage.
  • The county says the bridge is unsafe, but plan to take nearly a year to replace it.
  • Residents are concerned that the reason to replace the bridge is to allow more development.

The county engineer said that if the bridge were extended from 14 to 20 feet, it would become the responsibility of NDOT.  Otherwise, the county will pay to repair or replace it.  The fire department will not sign off on new development unless the bridge is extended for better emergency access.  Extending the bridge would allow for new development and transfer the maintenance to NDOT.

Going On This Week … 11/4/19

Monday, 11/4, 5:30 PM, Reno Airport

North Valleys Water Management Committee meeting.  This is the committtee charged with reviewing the plans to address flooding in the North Valleys.  This includes plans to disperse water from Swan Lake, limit new run-off, and to make plans to handle waste water.  This committee represents the best hope to avoid flooding again this year.  Agenda: 11.04.19 NVWM Agenda

Tuesday, 11/5, 8:30 AM, County Commission Chambers

Joint meeting of Reno and Washoe County to discuss plans for the Stead Corridor development.  This includes 1,000 acres around the Stead Airport.  AGENDA

Tuesday, 11/5, 5:30 PM, Zepplin Restaurant, 1445 South Meadows Parkway

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County invites the community to give input on the South Meadows Multi-modal Transportation Study.  Announcement: RTC_Meeting_110519

Thursday, 11/7, 6:00 PM, Reno City Council Chambers

The Reno Planning Commission will consider the first tentative map for the massive Stonegate development at the base of Peavine Mountain.  Phase 1A proposes 671 homes of the 5,000 homes approved in the plan.  AGENDA

Anytime

Fill out a survey reflecting your views on growth and development in the Truckee Meadows.  It is short with room for comments.  This survey is sponsored by a group of neighbors in the North Valleys that is seeking input for development throughout the Truckee Meadows.  They’re called the Washoe-Reno Smart Growth Alliance.  The results will be used to influence the county commissioners.

 

Reno Gateway Business Park Approved

The Reno Planning Commission approved the special use permit for the Reno Gateway Business Park in Mogul on October 16, 2019.  (voting for; Gower, Johnson, Velto; voting against; Hawkins, Marshall; Taylor recused herself).    [AGENDA     VIDEO ]

The developer made the following presentation:

Gateway_Business-Park_Presentation_101619

They claimed to have made the following changes to accommodate the neighbors.

  • Eliminated the largest warehouse buildings in favor of smaller buildings.
  • Reduced the number of truck docks.
  • Changed the orientation of the truck docks to reduce noise and light glare.
  • Plan for more “box trucks” rather than “semi-trucks”.
  • Reduced the total building area.
  • Added a lot for boat and RV storage.
  • Freeway ramps have been improved for acceleration and merging.

They claim that they have reduced the traffic levels to the point that they are not required to do a Traffic Impact Analysis.  They are consulting with Paul Soleagui on traffic issues.  He is known for traffic studies that support developers.

The staff gave a brief summary saying that they recommend approval of the project with these changes.  Neighbors consider the staff suspect; especially with Angela Foos as the new manager.  She recently came from Lumos.

Reno Staff report: Staff-Report_101619

The public comment lasted 1:20.  Area residents raised the following concerns.

  • Commute-time traffic is already severe.
  • There is only one way in and one way out: any increase in traffic is a problem.
  • The traffic study commissioned by the developer did not include the freeway ramps.  The west-bound on-ramp is particularly dangerous.  NDOT agrees that this ramp is problematic, but it can’t be widened due to the nearby overpass.
  • There should be an independent traffic study not financed by the developer.
  • Emergency evacuation would be more problematic with more traffic.
  • Increased air pollution from the increased truck and automobile traffic.
  • Early morning truck noise will be a problem.
  • The bend in the tracks makes it a dangerous railroad crossing.
  • Visitors cross the tracks for recreation to access the river and to access the Toiyabe National Forest on the other side.
  • The staff report does not address issues faced by residents on the south side of the property.
  • The Tahoe/Pyramid bike path will be affected by the truck traffic.
  • Who will enforce the traffic conditions agreed to by the developer?
  • Reno will decide about development, but the residents can’t vote for the city council since they are in unincorporated Washoe County.

The Scenic Nevada group wrote a letter opposing the large, illuminated sign for the industrial park.  They suggest an inconspicuous road sign.

Planning commissioners made the following points during their discussion.

Marshall asked about the safety issues related to the west-bound on-ramp.  Oswald (planner) pointed out that Mogul Rd will need to be brought up to city standards including sidewalks.  The developer has asked for a waiver on these improvements.  If NDOT mandates improvements to the ramps, the developer would be required to implement them.  Improvements would need to be made to NDOT’s satisfaction before permits for construction would be issued.  Richard Oujevolk (goes as “OJ”) represented NDOT.  He said this was an old interchange that was an obsolete design.  The traffic on that section of I-80 is relatively light.  Most ramps in Nevada will not permit a loaded truck to reach 65 mph in the length of the merge.  This ramp will probably result in trucks merging at 35-50 mph.  The developer will need to provide NDOT with a “merge analysis” when they seek approval.

Velto asked about how trucks are considered compared to cars.  OJ said that a truck is considered as two cars.  He went on to state that there had only been 6 accidents on that stretch of highway in the three years 2015-2017 and that none of them we related to merging.

Marshall asked the developer if they could just give up the semi-trucks and make the loading bays for box trucks.  The developer responded that the warehouses are not large enough to be efficient for a lot of semi-truck traffic.  He claimed they cannot control when a semi-truck will be used and will not accept a prohibition of semi-trucks as a condition.

Johnson asked what fraction of the estimated 640 additional vehicle trips would be passenger cars as opposed to freight trucks.  The developer didn’t know the answer, but said that they expect that only 15% of the traffic leaving the site would use the problematic west-bound ramp.  They expect most of the vehicles to the site to be passenger cars and light trucks (pick ups).

Gower asked how this plan would compare to other kinds of development in terms of the additional traffic.  The developer replied that the traffic load would be like a neighborhood of 60-65 homes.  He further asked about how this property was being handled as incorporated county but in the Reno’s Sphere of Influence (SOI).  Angela Fuss (Reno Planning Manager) replied that the city determined that this property was within their SOI even though there is not a basis for the city to annex it at this time.  Within the SOI, the city asserts planning and zoning jurisdiction.

Marshall wants to find out about the city’s action given that the property may never be a candidate for annexation.

Johnson asked about the scale of the project and the height of the buildings.  The answer was 24-30 feet.  Johnson went on to ask about drainage and retention of run off.  The answer is that it is mostly detention basins which only slow the flow back to the river.  The plan is to implement several measures to improve the water quality before it runs into the Truckee.

Gower asked whether NDOT had specific requirements for this area since it is identified as a point of interest.  OJ replied that the markers are put up by the Nevada Historical Society.  They got a permit from NDOT to put up the markers.  It’s not an NDOT issue.

Marshall received a letter from Scenic Nevada requesting that the sign height be reduced to 20 ft.  He asked the developer if this was a change they could accept.  The developer said that the sign had to be tall since the site is lower than the roadway.  He is prepared to meet with the representative to find an accommodation.  Marshall further asked if there could be a condition limiting the amount of semi-truck traffic.  This is difficult since transportation companies use a variety of trucks.  Oswald suggests a condition that permits “incidental” semi-truck traffic.  He acknowledges that this will be difficult to enforce.  Marshall suggested eliminating the truck bays suitable for semi-trucks.  Marshall is not comfortable with the city making planning decisions on a property that may never be annexed by the city.  The decisions the Reno Planning Commission will make will effect the county residents.  He is also concerned by the industrial development of a property that is used for recreation; especially by bicyclists.  Truck traffic will be a particular problem given that these roads lack shoulders.  He rides there.

Gower shares Marshall’s concern about Reno’s jurisdiction over this project.  He rides his bike in the area.

Hawkins has a problem with findings A (Land use compatibility), C (adequate infrastructure), and D (traffic impacts).

Johnson thinks Reno may be better to assess this plan since they have experience with the residential adjacency.  This is an isolated parcel between the railway and the highway.  He struggles with the findings.  He is most concerned about the traffic impacts with the larger trucks.


Note: the nearby residents have filed an appeal with the Reno City Council that will be heard December 4.

 

 

 

Daybreak Upheld

The votes were unchanged (4-3) to affirm the approval of the zoning-map amendment that was originally approved by the city council on September 23.  This was the second reading.  No second reading was needed for the Planned Unit Development (PUD) or the development handbook that were approved earlier.  None of the votes changed: Delgado, Jardon, Reese, and Weber in favor.  Brekhus, Duerr, and Schieve were opposed.

About a dozen residents stayed from 10:00 AM until the Daybreak agenda item was considered after 4:30 PM.  Residents raised familiar issues during public comment.  There were 60 comments received by e-mail in opposition.

  • The testing for Mercury was inadequate and doesn’t describe the hazards.
  • Some Hidden Valley residents stored flood waters on their property in 1997 to the benefit of the Truckee Meadows.
  • The government is itself responsible for the lack of the affordable housing by permitting sprawl which is not cost efficient.

Fireworks …

  • One resident pointedly asked whether the council members could pull themselves away from the developers and the campaign contributions to consider this project.
  • One resident pointed out that Delgado had taken campaign contributions from the Daybreak developer.  Supporting Daybreak is a public display of bribery.
  • One resident threatened to sue the city for putting the residents in danger.

Highlights of the discussion on the dais.

Duerr: “What is the liability risk to the city if there is increased flooding due to the development?  Is there bonding to cover this?”  She raised the issue of the city losing the class action suit brought by the Lemmon Valley residents.  Shipman (city attorney) had no satisfactory answer.  Neither did Brook Oswald (city planner).

Brekhus: “What happens to the approved Butler Ranch development PUD since it is mostly incorporated into Daybreak.”  Oswald was able to show how Daybreak would supersede Butler Ranch.

Duerr: “The 1997 flood in the area caused $700M in damages and would cost over $1.2B now.  With climate change, we can expect a 20% increase in the frequency and a 20% increase in severity of floods by 2050.  We have spent $150M on the Flood Project from a combination of sources.  With Daybreak, we will not be able to meet the Army Corps of Engineers requirements for the Flood Project.”

Schieve: She asked Daybreak’s wetland hydrologist what her concerns were about the project.  Lori Carpenter was evasive.

Schieve: “I used to live in Hidden Valley and I remember flooding there.  I remember going to the neighbors in a rowboat.”

Duerr: “The Army Corps of Engineers may not consider cumulative impacts and may wrongly grant permits to projects that are subdivided.”  She said that Daybreak did not have a 404-permit at this time.

Delgado (by phone): “Do we have a policy prohibiting development in flood plains?”  The answer was “no”.  Development in flood plains is strongly discouraged.  Will the developer wait for the new flood map before construction?”  Andy Durling answered “yes”.

Brekhus: “The maintenance and cost cannot be born by the HOA.  We need to know how this will be managed.  The cost will end up being borne by the taxpayers.

Brekhus: “I am concerned about the many older PUD’s that are the starting points for the amendments.  I would encourage a provision like this ‘The first tentative map for this project must be approved in 24 months.  Following tentative map approval, the developer will have 24 months for final map approval   The second tentative map must be approved within 6 months of the first one being approved. The two tentative maps must include at least 40% of the residential units.  Failure to meet these requirements will mean the Daybreak project approval will be vacated for the balance of the units.’ ”  Stockman: “The PUD, as drafted, has a 20-year expiration date.”  Shipman: “Due to the court order, these time constraints would need to be agreed to by the developer.”

Schieve: “Would the developer agree to these conditions?”  Michael Pagni (developer’s attorney) replied “The developer is not amenable to any further changes.”

Delgado: asked about the Mercury study.  Anthony Dimple (the developer’s researcher) assured him that the study was comprehensive and that the home sites would be tested before construction commenced.  He claimed to have an NDEP-approved mitigation plan.

Aside

The Bella Vista Ranch II developer requested a continuance that was granted unanimously.  Council member Duerr made an important suggestion.  “Why not make older PUD’s conform to the current master plan?  We should have an ordinance to that effect.”  This is an important point given the number of zombie projects dating back a dozen years that were approved under older master plans or area plans.

AGENDA          VIDEO

Silver Hills Denial Overturned (10/22/19)

The Washoe County Commission overturned the denial of the Silver Hills project by the Washoe Planning Commission.  This is consistent with the commissioners’ practice of favoring developers on every proposal.  Commissioners Berkbigler, Hartung, Jung, and Lucey voted to overturn the denial while Commissioner Herman was opposed.

AGENDA          VIDEO

It was dramatic: the county chambers were filled with a standing-room only crowd.  The majority had come to support the developer (Lissner) wearing Lifestyle Homes T-shirts.  Many appeared to be construction workers.  The Silver Knolls neighbors were well represented too.

Trevor Lloyd (county planner) gave a brief synopsis of the plan and went on to detail the reasons that the staff recommended to deny the project.  He appeared rattled by the size and temperament of the audience.  He recalled that the North Valleys Citizens Advisory Board had voted to deny the project as had the Washoe Planning Commission (LINK).

Garrett Gordon (representing the developer) made a presentation refuting the findings of the Planning Commission.  Part of it was to cite obscure references permitting higher density development.  He indicated a number of new concessions by the developer, but not reducing the density.

  • Commissioner Jung asked if there were “claw-back” provisions in case the new conditions weren’t met.  Gordon explained that the developer could be held responsible by not approving the tentative map for the next phase of the development.
  • Commissioner Lucey noted that there was no traffic report included with the project binder.  The developer is offering a one-time fee of $300 per home to support firefighting services and $300 per home to support law enforcement services.  This is roughly $1.1M which will cover very little for new emergency services. 
  • Commissioner Hartung asked whether their flood mitigation would be detention or retention basins.  Gordon said “both”.  Hartung asked whether the development planned for the Stead area was considered in the traffic report.  Roger Pelham (county planner) answered that this was not considered since it is in Reno.  Hartung went on to ask what the developer will do if the Stead sewer plant (RSWRF) runs out of capacity.  There is talk of a new sewer plant in the area.

There was a solid 3 hours of public comment.  There were 31 speakers in favor of the appeal.  These were Lifestyle Homes employees, the employees of subcontractors, realtors, Lifestyle-Homes homeowners, and people who knew Peter Lissner.  They made familiar arguments.

  • The jobs will be good for the economic development of the area.
  • We need more homes that millennials can afford.
  • Lissner developments become great communities.
  • Neighbors in opposition are just narrow minded.
  • Ian Satterfield (TMFPD) spoke in support of the development.  It will provide a new fire house and it would be worse if Reno were to annex the property.

The 22 speakers in opposition also made familiar arguments that had been presented to the Planning Commission.

  • The traffic study was B.S.: it was conducted over the July 4 weekend.
  • This appeal is not a jobs bill: it is a compliance action.
  • Retired Cal Fire Director, Ken Pimlott, said they are replicating the situation in Paradise and Coffee Park that burned with fatalities in California.
  • There’s insufficient evacuation capacity now on Red Rock Road.
  • The funding promised by the developer to widen Red Rock Road is $80M short.
  • Home insurance will show higher risks and higher rates.
  • The NVCAB, the Planning Commission, and the Planning Department couldn’t make the findings.  The Board of County Commissioners must address the findings.

Sparks fly with these exchanges.

  • Gordon asked everyone in favor of the development to stand.  More than half the audience did.  The neighbors booed loudly, causing Hartung to bang his gavel and call for order.
  • One speaker insisted that Commissioner Jung should recuse herself given the interaction he had seen her have with the developer.  Jung went over to the clerk and got the speaker’s information at which point another speaker shouted “She has no right to his information!”  This disrupted the meeting and Hartung threatened to have the second speaker thrown out.
  • One neighbor asked all the supporters to stand.  They did so … reluctantly.  She then asked everyone who lived on the Red Rock Road Corridor to remain standing.  All sat.

Following public comment, Herman stated her opposition based on her promise to the Lemmon Valley residents that she would not support any more projects that imported water into the basin.

Gordon got a chance to rebut the points made during public comment and made no significant new points.

The discussion went back to the dais.

  • Lucey: “Growth is coming, we need to accept it.  This is a well thought-out project.  I was unhappy that the Planning Commission didn’t ask the questions that I had to ask.  Infrastructure always follows development.  Neighbors should be more open- minded and understanding.”
  • Berkbigler: “This is a good project.”
  • Hartung expresses concern about traffic on Red Rock Road and then waxes poetic about his many years of watching the area develop.  He says that “All residents are part of the growth.  If we deny the project, the developer could get approval from Reno and build to even higher density.”

Residents left at 7:30 in disgust.