County OKs 1,600 homes |

County OKs 1,600 homes

by Susie Vasquez

The room was strangely quiet as Douglas County commissioners approved construction of about 1,020 homes on a proposed south Gardnervile development Thursday. Once known as the Jacobsen ranch, the Virginia Ranch development encompasses 226 acres.

Before the decision, the commissioners approved another 633-home development for the Park Cattle Company and the Anker family, bringing the total to more than 1,600 new homes in the Carson Valley.

Both projects were unanimously approved by the commissioners Thursday, but Commissioner Jacques Etche-goyhen abstained from the Park/Anker vote due to a conflict of interest.

“I’m sorry about the Virginia Ranch,” said commissioner Bernie Curtis.

“The owners, Stoddard and Jewel Jacobsen, were friends of mine and I know they never envisioned this.

“I hate to see this, but I knew it was coming,” he said. “I didn’t know it was coming like a freight train.”

The Virginia Ranch development includes 715 single-family homes on 134 acres, 305 multi-family townhomes on 54 acres, a school site, a 22-acre commercial area and five acres set aside for service or industrial use.

Sierra Nevada SW Enterprises of Dayton submitted the proposal and R.O. Anderson is the engineering representive.

The plan includes a traditional “lot and block” pattern with alleys and rear garages, pedestrian and open space connections and a wide variety of residential designs. The commercial component considers buildings with a “Main Street” theme, including shared plazas, pedestrian connections and open or green spaces.

The site is designated as a receiving area in Douglas County’s master plan and will be built over time in six phases, both east and west of Highway 395.

Commissioner Jim Baushke expressed concerns about the size of both developments.

“We’re probably doubling the size of our town in one night, yet no one has shown us a detailed traffic analysis,” Baushke said. “And no one has guaranteed we have the water supply.”

Mimi Moss, planning and economic development director for Douglas County, said without Muller Parkway, a proposed 6.3-mile alternate route east of Gardnerville, the Virginia Ranch project could not go forward.

“Highway 395 can’t handle the traffic from this number of residential units,” she said.

Douglas County resident Jim Slade echoed Baushke’s concerns about Douglas County’s limited water supply.

“This may be a receiving area, but we can’t continue to put endless straws into our aquifer before we deplete the recharge,” he said. “That time is rapidly approaching.”

Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said he’s glad the project is phased, so the issues can be revisited as each is developed.

“I’m looking for zero growth, but I’m not having much luck,” he said. “The one good thing is, I do think the transfer development rights program is aggressive and it’s working.”

Under this program, developers are required to preserve a certain amount of agricultural land from development in perpetuity.

The Virginia Ranch project will require a total of 1,020 transfer development rights for and roughly one acre of open land in Douglas County will be preserved for each home. About 10 acres of open space will be preserved for each acre of commercial property, Etchegoyhen said.

The project proposed by the Park Cattle Company and Anker family includes about 633 homes on 201 acres east of Minden and Gardnerville.

Located between Buckeye Road and Chichester Estates, the project requires a zoning change, from agricultural land with 19-acre parcel minimums to single-family and multi-family residential.

According to this proposal the single-family residential lots will vary in size, but none are smaller than 5,000 square feet. The lot design includes a centralized park, bike/pedestrian connections, and landscaped park strips similar to the existing residential core in central Minden.

The development is located in a receiving area and as such, will require transfer of about 633 development rights.

Roughly one acre

Once completed, the development will generate another 5,792 car trips daily. The traffic study recommends that improvements be made on Heybourne Road and the intersection of Muller Lane.

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