Commissioners OK condo development

A 292-unit condominium complex on 46 acres in Gardnerville was approved, but residents and commission members expressed concerns about the potential increases in crime, traffic and more.

Commissioner David Brady voted against the project, which passed Jan. 5 with a 4-1 vote.

The development is bordered by Chichester Estates just south of Stodick Park and when completed, an estimated 2,000 average daily trips will flow through local roadways, much of that traffic through Chichester.

"The look, feel, fit and function isn't right. Chichester will become a conduit to Highway 395," said Chichester resident Will Lance. "If we have to amend the zoning map, I wish the commissioners would consider single-family residences instead.

"How does this project benefit Gardnerville and the people?" he said.

H&S Construction has agreed to build that portion of Muller Parkway adjacent to this development, part of the traffic mitigations settled in advance of the project, said H&S spokesman Keith Ruben of R.O. Anderson Engineering.

Commissioners approved the project on the condition that H&S complete enough of the new parkway to allow access to Toler Lane, thus minimizing traffic in Chichester Estates.

Developer Randy Harris said this will be a high-quality project with prices ranging from $250,000 to $275,000 per unit, or about $100,000 below Douglas County's current average price of $360,000.

Plans include oversized one-car garages, 9-foot ceilings and gas fireplaces. Harris gets countless requests for this type of housing and the pricetag will be within financial reach for service workers and seniors in Douglas County, he said.

Buildout is expected to take six years. The first phase, which backs up to Chichester Estates on the western side of the project, should be completed in about 18 months, Harris said. Planned developments like these allow clustering to gain open space for parks, easements, or flood zones. This site totals 64 acres, the balance to include five-acre lots west of Muller Parkway and an addition to Stodick Park.

Despite those promises, Brady had basic concerns about the criteria used to approve these types of projects.

Developers pack units into a project in exchange for providing transfer development rights to provide open space and meeting the criteria for a planned development, Brady said.

"I applaud the developer for coming forth and playing by the rules, but there are no assurances this development will be affordable or attainable. Market forces will create the demand, as well as the impacts on traffic and public safety," he said.

"My issue is, I don't think this development lends itself to the quality of life this community is looking for," he said. "When does good planning become bad?"

He advocates readdressing the number of units per acre for planned developments, to better account for the issues surrounding development.

For example, the traffic study for this project had nothing in it that would indicate how the development will impact roadways, Brady said.

"My concern is, this is being done in a vacuum," he said. "We're not looking at these issues on a regional scale."

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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