178-home north county project wins approval | RecordCourier.com

178-home north county project wins approval

A 178-home project north of Sunridge was approved by Douglas County commissioners on Thursday after developers dropped a request for a variance to have just one entrance.

Land use that would allow the Valley Knolls project has been on the books since the turn of the century.

According to Manhard Consultants Chris Baker, developer Keith Serpa will work with surrounding landowners to determine the best location for a second access.

Valley Knolls is only the first of several projects approved as part of the 2000 North Douglas County Specific Plan, approved while the land was still under federal control.

The plan established land use and zoning on 624 acres on the east and west sides of Highway 395 at the northern entrance to the county. In 2001, the plan was amended to identify 324 acres of Bureau of Land Management territory to be sold for development, 64 acres to be used for recreation and public purposes and 30 acres to transfer to the Washoe Tribe or other federal agency on behalf of the tribe.

Proceeds from the sale of the property, which occurred at public auction in October 2005, were to go to purchase environmentally sensitive land in Carson Valley.

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John Serpa purchased the 100-acre parcel for $8.4 million. Former Google software engineer Raymond Sidney purchased the property directly north of that just off Topsy Lane.

Baker said the specific plan was in place for the property when Serpa purchased the land.

"This property was not zoned after the acquisition but before the acquisition," he said. "Douglas County went through the proper public process and this board approved the specific plan.

Baker assured commissioners that a second access would be completed before the 21st certificate of occupancy was issued for the project.

Under Douglas County code, any project with more than 20 homes should have a second access.

Planning commissioners approved the variance to just use one access if there was also an emergency access, but commissioners had an issue with that at their Jan. 4 meeting. The project was continued while staff and the developer worked to provide a second access.

Roads will be stubbed out of the project to the east, west and north and the developer will work with other landowners.

"We are working with all the property owners around us and it could be to the north or to the west," Baker said. "If anything, the other property owners need us as much as much as we need them."

Commissioner Barry Penzel said he wasn't comfortable with the lack of a definite plan.

"This is like playing dominoes, but I don't see the other dominoes hooked up," he said. "Where's the assurance that's going to happen?"

Community Development Director Mimi Moss said the county would issue a letter of approval that would set forth the conditions for the project.

That letter would also include an emergency access to be built in the first phase of the project.

Commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance establishing the zoning map amendment. That ordinance will have to undergo a second reading.

The also approved a subdivision map to subdivide 87 acres into 178 homes.

Baker said a request for a 96-unit multi-family project within the subdivision would go to the county planning commission in the near future.

That project will require the county to change the land use from office commercial, which Baker said wasn't a practical use in the middle of the housing project.

Other projects proposed for the area covered by the specific plan are a shopping mall and casino-hotel and a large housing development on the parcel further north.