Bently hopes to break ground in November | RecordCourier.com

Bently hopes to break ground in November

by Sharon Carter

Hoping to break ground in November, officials at Minden’s Bently Nevada Corp. this month began the county permitting process for a bi-level, 250,000-square-foot facility to be located at the Bently Science Park.

The building, which is planned to consolidate the company’s manufacturing operations and house its corporate offices, could be ready for occupancy as early as fall of 1999. The new facility will be adjacent to the historic Buckeye Ranch buildings south of Buckeye and east of Orchard roads. It is a site chosen by Bently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Don Bently.

“There’s a hump in the land there that’s out of the 100-year flood plain,” Bently said when building plans were in earlier, formative stages. “We’re taking down the (red brick) lambing pens and will consolidate the manufacturing units in one building.”

Bently Nevada’s Carson Valley operations are currently spread among several buildings in various different locations.

Bently Executive Vice President and General Manager Rich Chapman said Thursday the scattered facilities had created isolation within the company, so the overall objective of the new headquarters will be to break down the islands that currently exist.

Some of its future neighbors along Orchard Road, however, say they’re concerned.

Mary Fauria, who has lived on Chance Road – across Orchard from the building site – since 1994, said the manufacturing facility will have a negative impact on her lifestyle and her property’s value.

“We’re sick. We drove all over the Valley until we found this place,” Fauria said. “If they build a 54-foot building across the street, we won’t see the mountains. I wrote Mr. Bently a letter, myself, explaining how we felt and we haven’t gotten an answer.”

Fauria said she had also circulated a letter among her neighbors and gathered about 30 signatures to present to the county’s building staff to get neighborhood concerns on the table.

“A commercial appraiser told us to expect property values on the street to drop from 18 to 36 percent,” she said. “We can’t afford that.”

Fauria said several other residents had also submitted letters to the county.

n Neighbors concerned. “We’re all concerned about the traffic on Buckeye and Orchard,” she said. “They are two-lane roads with irrigating ditches on the sides. There’s no place now for pedestrians. As the traffic increases, especially the trucks, you can forget walking or riding your bike.”

Gertrude Sandor, who lives on Scoti Lane (off Orchard and Toler Avenue), shared Fauria’s fears.

“The height (of the planned building) alone got our attention,” Sandor said. “Fifty-four feet tall is a big building. I feel like Mr. Bently owns so much land in this Valley, I can’t believe he doesn’t have some other place he could put it.”

For Fauria and her husband, Johnny, Douglas County has been an ideal place to retire from hectic Southern California.

“This was small town America – McDonald’s has Legos out for the kids and nobody steals them – it was perfect,” she said. “Now we understand there will be loading docks across the street. It seems to us Bently Nevada could put its offices/manufacturing plant farther over on Buckeye where there aren’t any houses.”

n Undergoing changes. Rich Chapman said the Bently Science Park expansion plans were still undergoing changes.

“We are, for sure, listening to neighbor’s concerns,” Chapman said. “But, right now, the engineering is still being done on the building, so the (conceptual) drawings the residents have seen at the county aren’t exact. Things are changing.”

He said the overall project will be very high quality and will reflect a rustic yet modern theme similar to that of the Douglas campus of Western Nevada Community College, which is next door to the site.

“I also want to assure people, we’re working within county code restrictions and asking for no variances whatsoever,” Chapman said. “We recognize there is a need for information. And we also knew there could be initial negative feelings. The whole concept is very positive and good for the community.”

Pete Wysocki, an assistant planner in the county’s Community Development Department, said Thursday that Bently’s building site is zoned for light industrial use.

“At this point, they’re doing what they’re allowed to do,” Wysocki said. “Their industrial zoning at the Bently Science Park, which includes this site, has been in place since the early 1980s. Our job at the county is to help mitigate issues as much as we can, per code.”

Wysocki said plans for the proposed two-story, 250,000 square-foot building show it at the county’s maximum height of 54 feet.

“But at this point, nothing’s been approved,” he said. “We’re still working on some design issues that have to do with parking, screening and lighting. Bently has submitted a traffic report. They’re centralizing existing operations, so a lot of people will be moving across the street from the older portion of the Bently Science Park.”

Wysocki said the traffic report did show some future increases in traffic on Orchard and Buckeye roads.

“But, that road is a good road that can carry capacity,” he said. “We are asking that they build internal streets within the park to provide direct access. Ultimately, in about 20 years or so, there will have to be a traffic light at Orchard.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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