County approves Riverwood deal
September 28, 2012
An answer to dust blowing from the site of the former Riverwood development in northern Douglas County may be in the works.Commissioners approved a settlement that ended the $24.7 million redevelopment deal on Wednesday. County commissioner Greg Lynn said after the meeting that one of the solutions is to use highway grindings to keep dust in place.The settlement concluded part of a lawsuit filed by the county’s redevelopment agency Nov. 1, 2010.As part of the settlement, the redevelopment agency will have to pay developers $650,000 in exchange for ending an owner participation agreement on 4.6 acres on the Riverwood property.Still to be negotiated is a settlement on the 92 acres covered under the development agreement that moved 220,000 cubic yards of earth into a pile located near the Douglas County line.Attorney Mark Bruce, who represented the county in the settlement talks, told commissioners they would delay the lawsuit a year while negotiations continue. If settlement talks breaks down, the lawsuit could proceed.Reno attorney Kent Robison of Robison, Belaustegui, Sharp & Low told commissioners that the $650,000 the redevelopment agency will pay would be less than it would cost to litigate the lawsuit.“This is a very good deal,” he said. “We were confronted with a year of litigation, during which we would have to hire four or five expert witnesses and numerous depositions. When the other side saw how serious you were, they settled.”Neighbor Jerry Vaccaro asked who would be liable for the dust problems at the site as a result of the agreement.“It has been a long dusty road,” he said. “We have been damaged as local residents. The developer has been cited five times for fugitive dust and we still see no resolution. Tell me who is liable? Tell me what line to get in for $650,000?”Valley resident Jim Slade said he felt District Attorney Mark Jackson made the best of a bad decision.“This was another sweetheart deal and the taxpayers ended up paying the price,” Slade said.Riverwood was approved for redevelopment in an owner participation agreement in December 2006. In exchange for building 30,000 square feet of commercial space and keeping 25,000 square feet of it full, developer Jay Timon would receive $24.7 million.Under the agreement and the development agreement approved in November 2007, a site improvement permit had to be issued and work begun on the site before Dec. 31, 2009. Work to grade the Riverwood site started in November 2008 and stopped a few weeks later, and has yet to resume.Riverwood was the third redevelopment project in northern Douglas County. Redevelopment also prompted the commercial center occupied by Home Depot and Target, and both the Carson Valley and Clear Creek plazas, which are home to Best Buy and Walmart. The land on which Riverwood sits was purchased from the Bureau of Land Management for $14.6 million by Carson City car dealers Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer. Both men are parties to the settlement agreement, along with developer Jay Timon.County Manager Steve Mokrohisky said Thursday that the settlement will free up roughly $2 million a year from the redevelopment fund for public projects within the boundaries of the redevelopment district.He said the county didn’t budget a project for this year because of the litigation.“This opens up redevelopment funding for the next 16 years,” he said.This year the redevelopment district budget included $375,000 for legal costs and $1.6 million to repay other funds.Mokrohisky said the settlement will come out of the $1.6 million.“Now that we don’t have to pay the installments on the $24.7 million that frees up the money for other things,” he said.Because the Riverwood site is private property, redevelopment money couldn’t go to help mitigate the site, but Mokrohisky said the developer has replaced the silt fence around the property and that the owner’s plan is to lay grindings on the site.An example of a project paid for from redevelopment are the improvements under way in Genoa.