Arrowcreek School Grading Approved

The Washoe Board of County Commissioners voted to accept the appeal by the WCSD to approve their grading permit for the property at the corner of Arrowcreek and Thomas Creek.  The vote was 4-0: Commissioner Herman was not present.  Many parents and residents attended and many spoke.

Principal Takeaways

  1. The plan is unchanged from the plan reviewed at the townhall meeting.
  2. The WCSD does not have possession of the property now.  This will be required before grading begins.
  3. No one from the WCSD met with neighbors to address their concerns as directed by the County Commission on August 28.
  4. Commissioner Lucey did not meet with neighbors as requested in 12 letters to him.  He said he walked the property.
  5. No public speaker opposed the new school.  One suggested they reconsider an alternate site that had been considered.
  6. Several residents argued that having a new school would raise property values in the area.
  7. Only two public speakers impugned the motives of the residents expressing concern regarding the safety issues.
  8. Commissioner Lucey indicated that widening Arrowcreek Parkway so that it is all 4 lanes is in RTC’s plans for the 2022-2026 time frame.
  9. Commissioner Lucey asserted that the seismology and hydrology investigations could not be done until the grading permit was approved.

Fundamental Issue: Trust

  • Attendees who believe that the county engineering and WCSD contract engineering will adequately address the issues of flooding, earthquake hazard, and traffic want to see the development move forward without delay.
  • Attendees who are skeptical of the assurances of the county engineering and contract engineering want to see further study of these critical issues before the construction work proceeds.

Statement of the Day

Bruce Glassman proposed that Commissioner Lucey insist that the Arrowcreek Parkway be widened by 2022 and that the WCSD buy flood insurance for the downhill neighbors.

 

Links

Arrowcreek Townhall Meeting

Arrowcreek Grading Appeal

Arrowcreek School Plan

 

DEVELOPERS – 3 / HOMEOWNERS – 0

The developers were right.  They would get a more favorable hearing from the Board of County Commissioners than from the Citizen’s Advisory Boards and the Planning Commission.  Those bodies are now rightfully skeptical of both the developer-funded engineering reports and the Planning Department Staff reports.

The meeting started at 10:00 AM.

ROUND-1: Homeowners vs Autumn Woods-II (duplex development on Zolezzi Lane).  Time 1:45 PM

This is an unusual development of duplexes in an area zoned for Medium Density Suburban (MDS).  There are expected problems with traffic given the Montessori School on the one side and the big apartment development a few blocks away.  The property floods frequently from Whites Creek or from a tributary.  The Planning Commission primarily denied it because it is not compatible with the neighborhood.  Commissioner Lucey asked if the developer would be willing to pave Jeppson Lane past their driveway to the length of the property.  The developer said no.

  • Seventy-five residents wrote in opposition to the appeal.
  • How will the detention ponds be maintained? What if the HOA fails?  There is no access road to the detention ponds that will handle heavy equipment.
  • One neighbor echoed the developer’s argument that they had an “investment-backed expectation to get their way.” Don’t the homeowners and taxpayers have an “investment-backed” expectation that the character of their neighborhood be preserved?
  • Appellant lawyer John Compotic (sp?) said the county staff were experts and not aligned to make it easier for developers. This was met with derision in the audience.  He went on to say the Planning Commission’s decision seemed arbitrary.
  • Representatives of the Montessori school requested solid fencing or a wall so that residents would not be able to see the children.

The Planning Commission had denied 7-0 with prejudice.  They saw many unresolved issues.  The Citizen’s Advisory Board had already denied it twice.  The county commissioners accepted the appeal 4-0 (Commissioner Jung was not present).

ROUND-2: Homeowners vs Lemmon Drive Estates, 98 lots  … Time 3:15 PM

These are urban lots; some as small as 6000 sqft.  Side setbacks to be 5’ with front and back setbacks to be 10’.  It’s another plan that will contribute to flooding in a flooded area and add traffic to a distressed highway.  One egregious aspect is the major grading done by the developer without a permit and with the plan denied by the Planning Commission.  In another county, the developer would be ordered to restore the property to its earlier condition and be fined.  But there’s little appetite to enforce compliance against developers in Washoe.  He will be asked to move a couple of the large rocks so that the illegal grading doesn’t pose a new flood hazard to the neighbors.  With this issue and the developer’s travel plans, he asked for a continuance on the hearing of his appeal.  Public input included:

  • “The commissioners are not fulfilling their contract of employment.”
  • “The commissioners need to understand it’s an issue of integrity.”
  • “The primary school is dilapidated, unsanitary with disintegrating asbestos panels.”
  • “Lemmon Valley Drive is frightening to drive on.”
  • “There is no police (Sheriff) presence to control speeding on the damaged road.”
  • “It’s time to consider the ‘M-Word’, moratorium for North Valley development. There is no responsible way to approve new development.”

There was a lot of discussion of the problems of Lemmon Valley before the District Attorney reminded the commissioners that their only choice was to deny or accept the appeal.  They voted 4-0 to grant a continuance till their next meeting “next Tuesday”.  This is the outcome the developer wanted.  There is no future meeting on the county website calendar.

ROUND-3: Homeowners vs Prado Ranch North (Lemmon Valley Drive at Deodar) … Time 4:15 PM

It makes no more sense than the other plans to develop in a flooded area.  The arguments are both compelling and depressingly familiar.  Commissioner Herman made the point “This plan doesn’t ‘compute’ at all.”  The debate became more heated with more audience participation.  The public had largely concluded that decorum was wasted before such capricious authority.  Commissioner Hartung asked some probing questions about improving Lemmon Valley Drive and pressed whether it would be expanded to 4 lanes with a bike lane.  Commissioner Hartung also wants to see all the neighborhood roads repaired.  Engineer Dwayne Smith said this could proceed after the subgrade becomes accessible (after the flood recedes).  Raising and widening the road of course displaces more water which will end up in the yards of the flooded residents.  Here are some of the public comments.

  • “Moving 248 acres of soil for the combined development risks local wells and the soil may never recover.”
  • “NRS requires that appeal issues be addressed. If not, then the commission is in violation.”
  • “Developers are draining their properties onto those of homeowners.”
  • Again, “What about the homeowner’s investment-backed expectations?”
  • Suggestion to flow the majority of the waste water effluent from the Stead Plant to the county plant. This will require a new 8” pipeline.

The proceedings reached a deadlock when no one would second Commissioner Herman’s motion to deny the appeal.  And, no one would second Commissioner Berkbigler’s motion to accept the appeal.  Counsel Liperelli explained that the commission was obliged to approve or deny the appeal now or soon.  Commissioner Lucey broke the stalemate making the argument that the county couldn’t afford to fix Lemmon Drive, and so we needed to approve development to get at least part of it fixed.  He did not emphasize the fact that the development would contribute to flooding, traffic congestion, and school overcrowding in the process.  The appeal was accepted 3-1 (Commissioner Herman was the “no”).  The developer got what he wanted.  The meeting ended at 5:50 PM.

While the North Valley’s CAB and the Planning Commission seek sensible plans considering the issues raised by residents, it appears that the county commissioners are making arbitrary and capricious judgments overturning the unanimous decisions of the subordinate bodies in order to favor developers.

Links:

Autumn Wood II … LINK LINK LINK LINK

Lemmon Drive Estates … LINK

Prado Ranch North … LINK  LINK  LINK

False Alarm: Lands Bill not reviewed 9/11

It appears that the Washoe County Lands will not be reviewed at the upcoming meeting after all.  It has not been added to the agenda, and there is a statutory requirement that it be on the agenda 3 working days before the meeting.
There are other issues on the agenda worthy of consideration.
#13 Granting private schools the same consideration as public schools in that build plans will only require a Board of Adjustment “special use permit” in all areas except those zoned Industrial and Commercial.
#14 The board will review the appeal of the decision by the Planning Commission to deny approval of the Lemmon Drive Estates development.  It is a plan for 98 homes near the intersection of Lemmon and Military.  It looks like another plan that has no rational justification given the state of Lemmon Valley.
#15 The board will review the appeal of the decision by the Planning Commission to deny approval of the Prado Ranch North development in Lemmon Valley.  This is a property that has been partly submerged for two years.  Both the traffic report and hydrology report were revealed as shams under scrutiny by the planning commissioners.
#16 The board will review the appeal of the decision by the Planning Commission to deny approval of the Autumn Wood II development on Zolezzi Lane.  The development is not consistent with the area plan and presents a fundamental flooding problem.
I hope the false alarm over the Lands Bill being considered has not inconvenienced you.  It was based on our best information.

Arrowcreek school grading tabled

In a setback to the Washoe County School District, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to table the appeal by the WCSD of the Board of Adjustment decision against allowing grading to proceed on the new property.  The request to allow grading was always curious since the WCSD had not yet acquired the property they wanted to grade and they admitted that the school design was only 75% complete and subject to change.  What is the rush to grade under these circumstances?

To the benefit of homeowners and parents, the commissioners asked the school district to improve their plan to reduce the traffic impact and flood hazard to the local residents.  Also mentioned, was the requirement to rigorously identify earthquake faults on the property.

The Board of County Commissioners will take up the appeal again on September 18 and hope to see improvements in the plan to address the concerns of area residents.

Links:

Arrowcreek School Grading Tabled

Arrowcreek Middle School Townhall

Arrowcreek Middle School

Save the date! 9/11 2018

I just heard yesterday: the Washoe Board of County Commissioners will hear the new Washoe County Lands Bill on September 11 (time TBD).  This bill is a travesty, and warrants the strongest possible response from the residents.  In short, it will make a deal with the Federal Government to turn over BLM land in the Truckee Meadows to Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County for development (73,000 acres).  No one supports this bill except those that will profit from it.  The cities and counties are eager for the development and for the ensuing property tax revenue.  Given the problems we have now with irresponsible development, expanding the area available for malfeasance will produce a nightmare.  Watch for the agenda with the schedule.

Summary of Road Safety Audit Conducted on Mt. Rose Highway – July 2018

Traffic Increase 2011-2017

If you regularly drive Mt. Rose Highway you have probably noticed that traffic has really increased in the last four years. It feels like accidents are a threat to your daily drive, it’s not your imagination!   The table provided in this link (https://www.nevadadot.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=14359) indicates the degree of traffic increase from 2014-17.

Road Safety Audit Summary

In response to public concerns regarding increasing accidents and near-misses, including a fatal accident on Mt. Rose Highway, NDOT Safety Engineering Division in coordination with NDOT Roadway Design, authorized a Road Safety Audit (RSA) to be conducted on Mount Rose Highway (SR 431) from milepost MP WA18.694 to MP WA 23.050 and SR 431 MP WA 0.00 TO MP WA 8.00. The RSA was conducted on July 17-18, 2018. Present for the audit included NDOT Engineering and Maintenance personnel, NHP, Deputy Washoe County Sheriff, Washoe County Traffic, Kimley-Horn Traffic Engineering Consultants, and two Callahan residents. A Traffic Control Evaluation Study is also underway for the Callahan-Mt. Rose Highway intersection.

The open forum began with observations regarding increasing traffic safety issues, particularly at certain intersections and road segments; and concerns regarding the projected increase in traffic due to several new developments along Mt. Rose Highway from Timberline to I-580 Freeway. NDOT completed a traffic volume count and corridor crash analysis (January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017) and presented the results to the group. Additional discussion and information sharing included weather-related traffic and maintenance issues and the types of traffic controls being evaluated for the intersections of concern.

The team conducted afternoon, evening and early morning observations at several intersections along Mt. Rose Highway from Incline to Wedge Parkway. Topics included:

  • Current traffic operations, pedestrian and bicycle usage
  • Maintenance Issues
  • Safety Issues
  • Possible traffic calming and highway upgrades

An audit close-out session was held to summarize findings, observations, road conditions, and possible traffic safety solutions for each intersection investigated.   Salient topics covered in the Mt. Rose RSA included:

    • Road alignment and cross section: visibility, design speed, drains, passing, shoulders
    • Auxilliary lanes: tapers, shoulders, signs and markings, and turning traffic
    • Intersections: location, visibility, signing, layout, pedestrians and bicyclists, lighting
    • Interchanges: visibility, sight distance, lanes, shoulders, pedestrians and bicyclists, lighting
    • Signs and lighting: general signs issues, sign legibility, sign supports
    • Marking and delineation: general issues, centerlines, edgelines, lane lines, guideposts, reflectors, curve warning and delineation
    • Barriers and clear zones: end treatments, crash cushions, pedestrian railing, visibility of barriers and fences.
    • Parking
    • Traffic signals
    • Bridges and culverts
    • Floodways and Causeways
    • Pedestrian and bicyclist safety and older drivers

 NDOT, NHP, Washoe County traffic engineers and the traffic consultants created a attached the summary matrix of the issues and recommendations for each segment and intersection of concern on Mt. Rose Highway. This document is too lengthy to include in this post; however the final RSA Report is anticipated to be complete in September and will be summarized in a subsequent post. Final recommendations and priorities for highway improvements will be considered by NDOT. Construction costs and schedules are outside the scope of this RSA and will be completed separately.

Where are we headed?

If you’re worried about the pace of development and the effect on our daily lives, you have good company.  The TMRPA board met yesterday at a restaurant and candidly discussed issues of concern.  The purpose was to inform a consulting company that will work on a plan proposal for the region.  The issues and situation will mostly seem familiar.

  • We are at our limit for sewer capacity.  We have neither the pipes nor the treatment facilities to support expansion.
  • Our roads are in rough shape.  We don’t have the funds to pay for infrastructure improvements.  Developer’s “impact fees” only cover a fraction of the cost.
  • Growth proponents want to see a major expansion in the North Valleys, but persistent flooding and road conditions must be addressed first.
  • Growth proponents accept that development will impact the lives of residents in the unincorporated county negatively.

It was pointed out that there are already plans for 70,000 dwelling units approved (but not built) when only 42,000 are needed by 2038.  We have approved the building of more new homes than will be needed for the next 20 years!

The “elephant in the room” which was referred to, but not discussed is the giant Stonegate development recently approved by the City of Reno.  It is a small city of 5,000 homes north of Peavine Mountain and south of Cold Springs.  The likely problems associated with this are staggering.

Detailed Notes