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.


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.


Lakeridge Residents website


Meeting Video (5:48:00 time mark)


Daybreak and Mt. Rose Comm. Ctr. News

The Reno Planning Commission reviewed a request from the Daybreak developer to approve a tentative map for the development on 4/21/21. It is on the corner of the property near the intersection of South Meadows Parkway and Echo Valley Parkway. It is for 173 homes on 34 acres: Villages 18-B and 19-A. These are small lots: 3400 sqft to 4500 sqft. The market is claimed to be the “missing middle”. While part of Daybreak, this development will be called “Talus Valley”. The developer gave a presentation and then the staff gave one also. Brooklyn Oswald concluded with a recommendation to approve this application. The commissioners had no questions: there was no discussion. The application was approved unanimously.

The developer for the Mount Rose Commercial Center presented their plan to the city council. The developer is seeking approval to proceed with grading and moving the drainage-way which may be on a 24-hour basis. The lots subject to 24-hour work are on the south side of the site toward the geothermal power plant. The planning staff recommended approval. There was no public comment.

  • Building height up to 55 feet by zoning. This will probably be representative of any warehouse buildings.
  • Traffic studies have not been done. A traffic study will be required when each parcel is defined.

There was no discussion. The permit was approved unanimously.


MEETING VIDEO (Mt Rose, 1:43, Daybreak, 1:03)

Canyon’s Edge Town Hall 4/19/21

Councilmember Duerr hosted a town hall meeting on Zoom regarding the planned Canyons’ Edge development. It’s a small development of 8 homes at the foot of the steep rise above Damonte Ranch and The Palisades. It is the next step in peripheral sprawl from the recently approved Canyons development. The 80 acres will be divided into 8 10-acre lots. Only 14 acres will be developed. The other 66 acres are too steep (30% slope or more). In effect, the homes will be on small lots with nearly 10 acres of vertical back yard.

John Krmpotic of KLS Planning gave the presentation. He made two points to show the efforts made by the developer to address community concerns.

  • The developer would accommodate the wild horses with a path through the development and a water trough further up the hillside. This would be considered temporary for two years until Reno came up with a comprehensive plan to manage and support the wild horses.
  • The developer would zone the 66 acres as Open Space and would allow access by the public. The Open Space area would be under the control and management of Reno.

Krmpotic represented these as “concessions” to the neighbors. One resident pointed out that the accommodation of the wild horses was not a concession but rather a mitigation (addressing a problem caused by the development itself). Also, the 66 acres are too steep to build on. It’s not conceding much to make it Open Space.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half. Open issues remain.

  • What will the cumulative effects be when the Sunny Hills development is built on the adjoining properties to the North?
  • What will happen after two years? Will Reno be ready with their plan to support the wild horses when the developer starts building and blocks the horses’ access?
  • How will horses access the planned water trough which is on a steep hillside?
  • What does it mean for a homeowner to own Open Space? Legally, the homeowner could fence off all or part of their property whatever the zoning. The developer wants to sell the properties as 10-acre lots, but guarantees public access to 82% of it. This appears untenable.

The developer has submitted a Master Plan Amendment to change the zoning from UT-40 (one home per 40 acres) to one home per 10 acres. While it’s only a few homes, it follows the pattern of every developer seeking a zoning change to build at higher densities. They are also requesting a designation change from Tier-3 to Tier-2 by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority for the 14 acres. Building is largely prohibited on Tier-3 areas. The developer does not yet have a date for the Reno Planning Commission to review the project. Dolan said that he had wanted to move forward earlier when he felt “he had strong staff support”. He didn’t expand on how that had changed.

Duerr made the point that the conditions about accommodating the wild horses should have been incorporated into the PUD for the Canyons development which was just recently approved. Dolan argued that this was not possible since that development had a different owner: his brother, Jack Dolan (Six Development). He went on to admit that Jack was also an investor in his company; Virginia 40’s. It sounds like good old Reno.

KLS Presentation

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.

Santerra Development (Quilici) Approved

The Reno City Council heard appeals on March 24 from both the neighbors and the developer on the Planning Commission’s decisions on the Santerra project (12/16/20). The neighbors (represented by Argyris) were appealing the approval of the Master Plan amendment and zoning change. The developer (Toll Brothers) was appealing the denial of the tentative map and the Special Use Permits (SUP). This is a project to put 1,225 homes on 1,165 acres on the south side of I-80 in Verdi.

Public Comment: (52 e-mails received in opposition, 10 expressing concern, 1 in support; in addition, 4 voicemail messages were received in opposition)

  • The tentative map does not comply with the Mortensen-Garson Overlay District (MGOD) requirements regarding community planning, environmental and safety issues.
  • There is a lack of funding for public safety and infrastructure. This specifically refers to the staffing of fire station #19. This was a key consideration in the denial of the Mortensen Ranch project.
  • This plan includes hundreds of homes to be built in an area identified in the MGOD as Open Space.
  • This plan includes building on ridgelines that are protected in the MGOD. This is especially true for the southwest ridge.
  • The current plan is inadequate for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) to provide water service to these homes.
  • Traffic is not adequately addressed especially in terms of the freeway access to I-80. The highway infrastructure is inadequate for residential, fire, and public safety traffic.
  • Wildfire hazard is not adequately addressed in this plan. A primary concern is the lack of secondary access for fire fighters arriving and residents evacuating.
  • NDOW has indicated that this development would wipe out a deer herd. This is an area where deer seek shelter during a storm.

Reno planning staff gave a presentation and made the following points.

  • Make part of the existing Industrial zoned area into Residential and a part into Open Space.
  • Plan to move the existing Commercial zoned area to the northeast corner near the entry.
  • The new plan includes a Regional Park in an area that had been zoned Industrial.
  • A site is identified for a fire station and there is a fee of $1,600 per house that will go to a fire-station fund.
  • Homes will need to have fire sprinklers. The Reno Fire Department (RFD) can call on the Truckee Meadows Fire Department (TMFD) to respond to a fire here under the Automatic Aid agreement. TMFD has Station 40 near Somersett. The RFD estimates a 14-minute response time from their closest station.
  • Santerra is not large enough to justify a Planned Unit Development specification.

Argyris argued that she is aggrieved by the new development due to her concern for the community welfare, wildlife, and traffic and thus has standing. She went on to describe the requirement for cooperative planning indicated in the MGOD handbook. Two of the zoning changes run afoul of this requirement. Councilmember Reese made the point that the Reno requirements for standing are ambiguous. He moved that Argyris be granted standing. This was approved with a unanimous vote. She objects to two of the zoning changes. She showed documentation that Reno would provide the public safety services at the time of annexation. These services are not now available from Reno. The Drakulich ruling makes the expired handbook the controlling document: this plan is not compliant with the handbook. Argyris gave a presentation.

Angela Fuss (Reno Planning Manager) said the plan will go to the Truckee Regional Planning Authority (TMRPA) for review. there is no process of cooperative planning like what existed 20 years ago when the MGOD was formed.

The developer gave a presentation and made the following points.

  • The revised plan removes all the industrial zoning which is redefined as residential, open space, or used for the new school.
  • Village-12 will reduce the number of homes from 248 to 65.
  • The new design better protects viewsheds, drainage ways, and ridgelines.
  • There is now a right of way for the required secondary access. It will be complete before any residents move in.
  • Traffic levels will not exceed Level-of-Service (LOS) “B” after the development is complete.
  • Improvements will be made to three intersections near the Boomtown on-ramp.
  • There will be an opportunity for public review and comment on their final map.

Council discussion:

Brekhus: the zoning change needs to include an amendment to the MGOD. These need to happen simultaneously before the tentative map can be approved. She is also concerned about both the capacity and structural integrity of the Garson Rd. overpass. It was an NDOT priority project, but there has been no plan to improve it. Amanda Callegeri (NDOT) replied that the overpass is sound and has adequate capacity for the traffic volume indicated in the traffic report. It is not known when funding will be available to improve the overpass.

Duerr: the consideration of issues like funding the new school and the new fire station seems piecemeal while the MGOD documents suggest a comprehensive approach. She is concerned about the amount of grading planned for steep slopes. She is concerned about the amount of train traffic and the hazard that poses to nearby homes.

Reese: after the Argyris presentation, Reese pressed the City Attorney who indicated that the process used for the zone change was acceptable. Reese is also concerned that there be improvements to the road used for secondary access to the development.

Jardon: she likes the changes that have been made to the project since it was reviewed by the Planning Commission. She didn’t see any part of the project that addresses affordable housing. Mike Pagni (developer attorney) said the developer was willing to provide a $1,000 contribution per house toward the City’s affordable housing fund.

The votes:

Jardon moved to approve the Master Plan amendment. The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed. Brekhus does not believe the zoning change is compliant with Reno code, while Duerr believes the project will have a negative impact on traffic.

Jardon moved to approve the zoning changes. Brekhus is opposed since the required changes to the MGOD have not been incorporated. Duerr is opposed because it is not clear how the new fire station will be funded. She is also concerned about the impact to the rural community (Verdi). The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed.

Jardon moved to approve the tentative map and SUP’s with changes resolved during the meeting. Duerr has many issues with the tentative map especially the SUP for mass grading which is restricted in the MGOD. Brekhus thinks the MGOD requirements are being cast aside with this approach. She thinks the storm water drainage is not adequately addressed. The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed.


Meeting VIDEO (starts at 5:09)

Meeting AGENDA (Item I-1)

Lakeridge Tennis Club Saga 3/24/21

This is a guest post submitted by Jim Christoff

6000 Plumas Redevelopment, a.k.a. the Lakeridge Tennis Club Development

My previous blog found here describes the history of the now-vacant lot on S. McCarran near Lakeside that was previously occupied by the former Lakeridge Tennis Club. In brief, developer Reno Land purchased the Club and publicly assured concerned members and neighbors that they would save some of its recreational facilities including a pool and 6 tennis courts and only build about 150 apartments on part of the site. Reno Land then requested Reno’s City Council for a change in zoning to Commercial zoning so that it would be possible under the City’s codes to retain the recreational facilities side-by-side with apartments, stating that the change in zoning would allow them to return the Club “to its former glory”. However, soon after Commercial zoning was granted, the developer demolished the Club, returned to the city’s planning staff and obtained approval to cram 350 apartments into the 9.3 acre site. Nine individuals appealed, slamming the developer’s use of a bait and switch tactic likely intended to avoid objections to the zoning change. An independent Hearing Examiner appointed by the City found in favor of the appellants and overturned the site plans’ approval.

Naomi Duerr, Council Member for Ward 2, gave a presentation during City Council’s January 13, 2021 meeting to request a change in zoning to permit only lower density housing, noting that in her original motion to grant commercial zoning she specifically added that she would initiate rezoning if that original project was not pursued. Duerr outlined reasons why the zoning should be changed from Commercial to MF-14 (Multi-Family-14), which limits developments to 14 housing units to the acre. MF-14 zoning would still allow the developer to build a development to the same density they originally promised and overcome the concerns of most residents. Both planning staff and city attorney Karl Hall found no legal implications with Duerr’s rezoning initiative. However, Council elected to put the rezoning initiative on hold over concerns about violating the open meeting law.

On January 25, 2021, Lyon Living, former partners with Reno Land, submitted plans to the city for a project that was very similar to its original project, with only a slight reduction in the number of housing units (314 instead of 350) and changing its marketing approach from rental apartments to condominiums. However, Reno’s planning staff instead found that the application was “substantially changed” from the original application and recommended that the Planning Commission approve of plans, even though the appearance of the tall and closely-spaced buildings was exactly the same as submitted in the previous site plan rejected by the Hearing Examiner.

The Planning Commission received 134 written comments and voicemails from residents opposed to the project and none from anyone in favor. Strong objections were made over density that wouldn’t match the neighborhood, excessive building heights that are two stories higher than any nearby residences, the inevitable loss of large trees along McCarran that have served to screen the site for years and would now expose the buildings, lack of sufficient on-site parking, increased traffic levels along the already-congested stretch of McCarran, lack of sufficient open space between buildings, and stark building designs that are not compatible with the one and two story residential neighborhood. The Planning Commission noted that these expensive condos would not fulfill any low-income housing needs and admitted that the proposed density would far exceed anything in the area, but voted to approve the project regardless.

Concerned citizens are planning to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to City Council for a hearing expected to occur in April or May. Stay tuned!

Ascente Geology Concerns

The Steamboat Hills is a feature of hot, unstable rock riven with earthquake faults. It is a hostile place to build; slow progress, expensive, with a lot of noise and dust. Extra care must be taken to locate home sites away from hazards, and construction must adapt to the largely unstable rock formations.

Geological considerations and concerns that apply to Ascente:

  • Geothermal activity may indicate instability in the rock structure from the lava mantle below.
  • Earthquake faults have been identified in the area which have not been adequately mapped on the Ascente property.
  • Geomorphology (topography) that will require re-shaping for the construction of roads and the preparation of home lots.
  • Extremely hard Andesite and Rhyolite that comprise the Steamboat Hills. Blasting will be required. It is inherently risky especially with some of the toxic elements on the surface that could become airborne. Blasting may also cause unintended movement in the unstable formations.

There are some roughly level lots at the end of Fawn Lane and on Patti Lane that could likely avoid the problems identified, but these are likely adjacent to the fault system identified along the base of the Steamboat Hills (west side). If construction proceeds up the hillside, the problems of building on this terrain will be ever more critical.

See Kristin’s excellent page describing the geology issues for Ascente in detail.

See Kristin’s letter to the county planning department and county engineer about the apparent problems with the Lumos geo-tech study.

Ascente 2021

The business plan for the Ascente development has gone through several iterations to reach today’s version.


Partners Michael Barnes and Paul Tanguay purchase 632 acres on the western slope of the Steamboat Hills off the Mount Rose Highway for $7.2M. The company listed was Symbio. There was an earlier development plan for the property called Matera Ridge. The tentative map application for Ascente was submitted to Washoe County on September 15, 2015 with an updated version submitted April 17, 2017.


Working with Lumos (engineering firm), the developers produced a development plan for 225 homes in four villages on 225 acres for Phase-I. The long term plan was to add a Phase-II going over the ridge with a road leading to the Mount Rose Highway for an additional 400 homes. The Washoe County Planning Commission approved the Phase-I plan 6/6/17. The neighbors appealed and made a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners on 8/8/17. With a sympathetic county commission, the Phase-I project was approved replete with a laughable traffic report and many issues left open. Apparently, the original plan was for the developers to bring in the utilities and then sell individual lots to builders. There was a later version of the plan which was to sell entire villages to large home builders. According to the word on the street, large home builders were contacted to see if they would buy a village with an approved tentative map. Apparently, there were no takers. Symbio went on to seek smaller home builders, but there were apparently no takers among them either.


Symbio and NNV1 are listed as the property owners with principals Tanguay and Barnes. Dixon Commercial Realty listed the project (12/19) at $20.05M.

Sale prices were …

  • Sierra Village $4.2M
  • Tioga Village $5.35M
  • Donner Village $7.95M
  • Whitney Village $2.55M

Dickson Brochure

There’s no news: there were apparently no takers. It’s not clear why the listing is no longer on Dixon. It may be that their contract expired and was not renewed.


Bryan Drakulich is featuring the property and looking for investors. The property was listed for sale at $14.5M through Century 21. This includes 3 of the original 4 villages (208 homes, 185 acres). The Whitney Village (southern most) is not included. There has been little work done on the property for the last several years.

Drakulich brochure


The area is experiencing a boom in home demand and construction. With the basin floors mostly developed, developers are building on the surrounding slopes all over the Truckee Meadows. This is more risky and expensive, but apparently more profitable than building the higher density infill needed to meet the area’s housing needs.

There are special problems building in the Steamboat Hills not far from the geothermal power plant. The hills were named after the steam plumes that came from deep fissures in the rock. There is very little soil on top of the Andesite rock which is quite hard. The area is riven with earthquake faults. Many of the lots may not be buildable due to the fault locations. Extensive blasting and grading will be needed for the roads and the lots. The utility trenches will be problematic too. Rock will need to be removed while soil will need to be brought in.

Drakulich claims “Includes site geotechnical investigation suitable for final map application.” This is highly dubious. Ascente’s geotechnical investigation of the fault-riven area appears to have been inadequate to the point of being unprofessional. A report to this effect was sent to engineers in the county planning department in December of 2017. There has been no reply.

Mortensen Ranch Project Denied … Again

Late Wednesday the Reno City Council voted to deny the Mortensen Ranch development for the second time. This is a large development of 676 homes on 955 acres in Verdi on the west side of the Somersett development. The development had been considered and denied by the city before (1/26/2020). Following the earlier denial, the developer went to court with a petition for judicial review. This is a process in which the judge reviews documents describing the city’s decision with the petitioner claiming that the city acted “in an arbitrary and capricious” manner. As a rule, the courts are loathe to rule against the city or county. In this case, the Judge Kathleen Drakulich ruled in favor of the petitioner and ordered the city to reconsider the project specifically in terms of the Mortensen-Garson Overlay District (MGOD). Technically, the court vacated the city council’s decision to uphold the decision by the Reno Planning Commission to deny the project. The city did reconsider and Wednesday voted to deny the project again by a vote of 6-1.

It should be noted that the Drakulich family owns a large-scale development business. Judge Drakulich is the aunt of prominent developer J D Drakulich who ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2020. Her statement that the record “demonstrates both the Planning Commission’s and City Council’s animosity toward the MGOD” indicates a bias in her judgement. Given the family interest in promoting development, one might imagine that Judge Drakulich would have recused herself from this case.

Public Comment Voicemail ( In addition, there was one letter of support received along with 56 letters in opposition and 15 letters of concern)

  • The new development is not compliant with the MGOD guidelines and the associated handbook. in that it does not consider the cumulative effects of recent changes to the plan since the earlier review.
  • Fifteen of the new homes will be built on a ridgeline in violation of the MGOD guidelines.
  • Easements for emergency exit routes have not been secured.
  • Some of the development will be in areas identified as open space (“green areas”) in the City of Reno Community Development Map.
  • Native American artifacts are likely to be disturbed by this development.
  • Bike and OHV trails should be maintained where possible and trail access should be part of the development plan.

City Attorney, Karl Hall gave a summary and made the point that the case will go back to Judge Drakulich whatever the city decides.

Bill McKean (city attorney) and Angela Fuss (Planning Manager) gave a presentation to the council.

  • The “remand” order is not really the end of the legal process.
  • The MGOD overlay supersedes the regular city zoning requirements in cases where they diverge.
  • The MGOD specifies certain ridgelines that can have only limited grading or building.
  • The MGOD specifies limited development on hillsides, but does not prohibit it.
  • The MGOD requires a plan for parks and trails on the property.
  • The developer proposed to reduce the number of homes to 632 removing many of the homes that were on ridgelines.
  • The developer will add an emergency evacuation route on the north (uphill) end of the property that goes through The Cliffs development.

Fred Altmann gave a presentation on the behalf of the developer. He made the following points.

  • He asserts that the developer met with many people over the last year and made many concessions and changes.
  • The property will be developed in 8 phases for different geographical clusters he calls pods.
  • He would like to work with 5 or 6 area builders to get the entire project built within 5 years.

The city originally denied the developer’s appeal because it would require a master plan amendment or zoning change which was not included. This is required because the zoning shown in the MGOD is not the same as what the developer is proposing. Also, the development plan was found not in compliance with Nevada statutes.

Council Discussion

Councilmember Jardon asked staff about the easements for an evacuation route. Fuss replied that this should be included in the conditions for approval of the final map.

Councilmember Reese asked about the definitions of prominent ridgelines and rock outcroppings in the MGOD. Fuss replied that they are not very clearly defined. Reese is concerned about 20 lots situated on some of the steeper slopes. Fuss concurred that some of the lots are not compliant with the master plan since they are steeper than 30%. She said that the MGOD does not prohibit building in steep areas.

Councilmember Duerr noted that the MGOD document makes multiple references to community outreach and cooperative planning. There is also a reference to wildlife corridors. Fuss replied that the developer presented the plan at both the Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB, Reno) and the Citizen’s Advisory Board (CAB, Washoe) which fulfilled the outreach requirement. Fuss went on to say that “cooperative planning” referred to the city and county cooperating on plans that lie on the city/county boundary. The cooperation is between the planning departments. The wildlife corridors typically follow the drainage ways. These were identified to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) which were submitted with the project.

Councilmember Brekhus asked if the original Mortensen-Garson settlement had expired. Fuss said that it had. The MGOD is now in the development code.

Councilmember Jardon would like to see the buffer between these lots and the Somersett neighborhood increased to 150 feet. The developer said the buffer was at least 60 feet, but was not willing to increase it.

Duerr noticed that there were some home lots in areas that had been designated open space. Fuss replied that the newer plan takes into account natural features (“constraints”) at a detail level where construction could not occur. Duerr thinks that the construction should not occur outside the areas agreed to in the original MGOD. Fuss pointed out that the original MGOD handbook included “the exact zoning boundaries will be determined at the time of tentative map.” Duerr was not satisfied. She is also concerned about the homes to be built on slopes of 30% or more. While this is not prohibited, she thinks it is a bad principle. Duerr asked why the wildlife corridors are not already defined in the tentative map. Fuss said that these had been defined, but they have not yet received a mitigation plan from NDOW. Duerr is also concerned about traffic. Fuss replied that with each iteration of the plan, the developer has provided a traffic study that indicates that the traffic will not exceed service level “C”. Beyond this, Duerr is also concerned about freeway access (I-80) at this location. Fuss replied that no improvements for freeway access are included or required.

Brekhus is concerned about the local street network. One street that the development will use is not identified on the master plan. She asked about the right of way width for the streets that Reno will need to maintain. Fuss answered that the roads could be as narrow as 46′ but that these meet the city code requirements. Brekhus is concerned about the cost to the city to maintain roads in such rugged terrain. She asked how many feet of these roads would require retaining walls which would also need to be maintained. Fuss didn’t know.

Councilmember Reese asked what would happen if Native American remains or artifacts were found on the site. Fuss said that a plan had been submitted identifying where remains might be found. Since this is private property, there is no legal requirement regarding such remains. Reese asked Tray Palmer (Fire Marshall, RFD) if these homes will require sprinklers. Palmer said the nearest fire station would be number 11 at Sharlands and Mae Anne. Once the upper fire-access road is built, the Somersett station (#19) would be the closest. This is a little suspect since the Somersett station is presently only staffed for medical emergencies. The new homes would require sprinklers until the upper access road is completed.

Mayor Schieve is concerned about the fire fighting access. She asked Palmer if the topography is part of the fire-safety review of the project. Palmer said that topography is a big consideration. He said that the state will require a vegetation management plan since this is an instance of a wildland/urban interface. The maximum grade of a roadway for fire engine access is 10% or 12% for south facing slope.

Councilmember Weber asked if Jardon would share her secondary considerations that she didn’t raise since the lack of a 150′ setback makes the project unacceptable. Jardon said she’d like to see a “stakeholder” review of the final map to confirm that the conditions and expectations are reflected in it. The public trails should be recorded with easements. Jardon thinks all the homes should get sprinklers since the staffing of station 19 for fire fighting is still speculative. In addition, if historic remains or artifacts are discovered, all work in the area must cease. The emergency access road from the north would be a requirement before any homes are occupied.

Duerr pressed Fuss for more details about the wildlife corridors. In addition, Duerr expressed concern that Somersett is subject to strong earthquakes. She asked if there were any special standards for building in a seismically active area. Fuss said that lots need to be 50′ offset from an active fault, but that there are no special construction requirements. The developer will need to submit a formal geo-tech report with their final map.

Tom Gallagher (representing the developer) indicated that the developer would be willing to meet the 150′ setback from the Somersett property line if they could relocate the lots that were displaced by this change. The developers requested a 20 minute break to discuss the new conditions with the owner (Stan Lucas, San Diego). Afterwards, Altman summarized the owner’s positions.

  • Owner agrees to increase the setback from Somersett to 150′.
  • The developer will build the north emergency access road.
  • All the new homes will be built with sprinkler systems until station 19 is fully manned and can respond to fires. The developer is anxious about spending the additional $1600 per home if they can avoid it. Part of the issue is that Reno does not know when the city can afford to keep a fire engine company at station 19. Brekhus thinks the requirement for sprinklers in such a situation should not be an issue.
  • Open space areas will be deed restricted prior to submission of the final map.
  • HIking trails will be recorded with a public-access easement.
  • The developer will contribute $1,000 per home to the Reno Land Trust to be used for affordable housing projects.
  • The developer will comply with all state historical preservation laws regarding artifacts on remains discovered on the property (NRS 383.170).
  • The developer is hesitant to include stakeholders in the final-map review process hosted by city staff. Jardon pointed out that there have been projects in the past where the conditions negotiated for the tentative map were not reflected in the final map. This is a step the staff has added to projects in the Verdi area. Altman is concerned that this condition will spook potential lenders. He is adamant that citizens not be included in a meeting to review the final map. His position does raise questions as to the integrity of the final map they plan to provide. Fuss will write the condition to show that the staff will make the determination whether conditions are met.

Brekhus expressed concern over conditions that are being written “on the fly” during the meeting.

Closing Public Comment Voicemails (seven were received in opposition)

  • Since the MGOD handbook has expired, planning reverts to existing city planning and codes. The project is not consistent with the handbook and it requires cooperative planning.
  • Concern about the safety of powerlines that traverse the Mortensen Ranch property and terminate at the Somersett property.
  • Concern about contamination of the Truckee River watershed from development on the slopes.
  • Many of the ridgelines are not identified and should be protected.
  • Area wildlife is already under stress from development.
  • The development will build homes in area designated as open space.
  • The number of homes is too great given the characteristics of the property.

Jardon moved to approve the project (overturning the Planning Commission denial) with the new conditions defined during the meeting. Weber seconded the motion. Brekhus says the city is unable to provide adequate fire protection especially given the fast-paced fires that could occur on these slopes. She also sees problems related to neighborhood traffic and grading. She finds that the steep roads with retaining walls place an undue burden on the city for long-term maintenance. Duerr can’t support building on 30% slopes anywhere. Schieve is concerned about the wildfire hazard and the problem of emergency evacuation. The recent fire at Caughlin Ranch illustrated the risk of fire and the difficulty of evacuation. The motion failed with only Jardon and Weber supporting. Reese moved to affirm the decision of the Reno Planning Commission to deny the project. This was supported by all but Weber.

The review of this development project by the city council took 3 hours.


Staff Presentation:

Developer Presentation:

Court Ruling:

Staff Report: