Drainage still issue in Ruhenstroth
April 21, 2004
A representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers checked on the progress of a residential development in Ruhenstroth last week.
Richard Gebhart from the Corps’ regulatory office in Reno said the project still needs some monitoring because of its proximity to an unnamed tributary of the East Fork Carson River that runs east of Mustang Lane in Ruhenstroth.
“We essentially had (the developer) revise the existing channel already there,” he said.
Johnson Development LLC, owned by Kirk Johnson of Gardnerville, is building nine homes to be offered for sale for between $300,000 and $400,000. Johnson was issued a cease and desist order by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last July. Because the tributary is considered “waters of the United States,” it is governed under the Clean Water Act, and subsequent Environmental Protection Agency scrutiny.
“As developments go, this is one of the better ones I’ve seen,” said Gebhart. “The homes are not packed in like sardines. It is almost an easy fix.”
He said the drainage had to be re-routed to allow the braids of the stream to flow into a culvert. As it stands now, a new home is being built directly in front of that stream route.
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Nearby residents have been fighting city hall for a year to get the drainage moved. Mustang Lane neighbors Doug and Janice Johnson (not related to developer Kirk Johnson) and Gene Pasek sought a restraining order last August in Douglas District Court. It was denied. The Douglas County Commission denied the residents’ appeal of the approved project in July, despite submission of a petition with more than 50 residents’ signatures.
To combat the drainage problem, Kirk Johnson, in accordance with conditions imposed by Douglas County, built a moat-like channel directly in front of the first home on the site. Nearly 5-feet deep in areas and wider than an automobile, the channel doesn’t solve the problem with the tributary, according to Gebhart.
“We’d rather that he didn’t do that,” he said, “but create drainage around like it should have in the beginning.
“We would prefer that he complete the channel (drainage) first, before building these houses. But it is not a requirement, so it was not done.”
Meanwhile, neighboring residents Pasek and Doug Johnson fear the worst if the stream floods like in recent years. Their homes are directly in the path and have suffered damage before.
Pasek built a pump house and set up railroad log barriers that he hopes will stop water if necessary.
“If it gets past that, it will be a mess,” he said. “We’re turning our backs on this because we have no recourse. The county was not for the best interest for property owners.”
Regina Purcell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 782-5121, ext. 211.