MOUND HOUSE - Proposed development along McClelland Peak Road, off of Linehan Road, has some residents concerned about heavy traffic, though the developer said it is premature to discuss the project.
The project is far from assured. It involves a land swap with the Bureau of Land Management which requires the approval of Congress, a long and arduous process. Yet some Mound House residents already are fretting over traffic and safety issues, and how to preserve their rural way of life.
"They want to put about 200 homes, and all of us here on upper Linehan Road are opposed to that because this is essentially a rural area," said Gordon Hutting, owner of Cold Nose Kennels and chairman of the Mound House Regional Advisory Council. "We don't want to see that kind of high-density housing up here."
Hutting said traffic and safety were also concerns to residents.
"Linehan Road is a two-lane road, and if we have a fire or any kind of natural disaster, getting any kind of emergency vehicles up or evacuating residents from that kind of development would be near impossible," he said. "The other thing is the road up here is not built for heavy equipment, it's built for cars."
Developer Gary Hill of Tahoe Investment Group, who developed the Santa Maria Ranch project, wants to exchange land there with land owned by the BLM on McClelland Peak Road.
Hill said the project is tied to passage of the Lyon County Lands Act, which is in jeopardy after the addition of wilderness language that could kill the legislation.
The lands bill is the legislation that allows the BLM to designate certain parcels for possible exchanges.
"There's a land swap that has been in process for a couple of years, but most recently it has been waylaid because of a wilderness portion to the Lyon County Lands Act," he said. "So I don't know if the trade is going to go through."
Hill said the BLM identified the McClelland Peak Road property as "disposable lands," so that land swap negotiations could begin.
"But the Lyon County Land Act may not go through," Hill added, "and then we would just develop Santa Maria out to its fullest extent."
Hill said it is too early to discuss traffic problems or other issues related to the development. "We do extensive traffic studies, we have engineers, we work with NDOT (Nevada Department of Transportation) and there are lots of feasibility studies before anybody does anything," he said. "We recognize that traffic is something that would have to be mitigated."
Hill couldn't say how many homes would be in any future development.
"We'd have to get zoning on the property, and that will dictate the number of houses," he said. "Right now it's just public lands; there's no zoning."
Hill said there would be many public meetings as part of the process to develop the land.
According to Chuck Pope, assistant field manger for the BLM, there has been no action taken or decision made on the proposed land swap.
"There's been some discussion about a possible land exchange in the area, but nothing formal has been done about it," he said.
If any formal request is processed, it will have to be approved by Congress, said Amy Maier, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Reno. She added that though discussions have taken place on the McClelland Peak Road proposal, no legislation has been drafted.
Maier said constituents can contact the congressman with their concerns on any proposed land swap.
n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.