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Housing development gets approval

by Christy Chalmers

A 182-home development on the Carson Valley’s east side has won approval, though leaders don’t know if it will be served by sewers and a water system or wells and septic tanks.

The county commission approved the project Thursday on a 4-1 vote, noting that refusal could fuel a lawsuit.

“I don’t want to see the courts have to decide a case that we should be deciding here today,” said Commissioner Kelly Kite.

The proposed Grandview Estates will cover 861 acres northeast of Minden along East Valley Road and north of Buckeye Road. The 182 houses are to be clustered on 2- to 3-acre lots, with the rest of the land preserved as open space.

The land is zoned for 5-acre lots, but the approval included a planned development designation, which allows the smaller sizes.

Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen opposed the project because he doesn’t think the proposal meets requirements for a planned development designation. He also said extra houses allowed by the planned development designation could be harmful to the surrounding area, especially if wells and septic tanks are used.

“It’s not that I’m against this project,” he said. “I think to increase the density in this area is a misuse of the planned development ordinance.”

Etchegoyhen and the other commissioners emphasized that they hope the Grandview developers, SCM Homes, will install community water and sewer systems instead of individual wells and septic tanks, which they could use.

Bently Family Limited Partnership, which owns land around the Grandview property, has reportedly expressed interest in extending sewer service to the area. Minden town officials want to extend water service.

SCM president Steve Mothersell said the company would prefer community water and sewer systems, but the decision will depend on how those systems would affect the home costs.

“If they don’t prove out and they don’t happen, it’s not because we didn’t try,” he said. “We know it’s a benefit.”

Several East Valley residents are worried individual wells could lower the ground water table. Concerns about pollution by septic tanks have also been raised.

The county planning commission cited both issues in recommending denial of the project in December, but the county commissioners noted the systems are legally allowed and wouldn’t justify denial of the project.

Mothersell said SCM will work with Minden officials and Bently representatives on the sewer and water issues.

He also agreed to realign 11 lots that were designed to face East Valley Road so that the homes use two or three common access points instead of individual driveways to reach the road.

Other conditions of approval for the project include paving East Valley Road from the subdivision south to Borda Way and paving Buckeye Road from Orchard Road to East Valley.

Grandview Estates will occupy roughly the same area as the former Buckeye Creek subdivision site. Proponents wanted to build 2,478 houses, a golf course, a commercial area and other amenities on 958 acres.

The project had been in the planning stage for more than 12 years when the developers missed a 1996 deadline for approval of a map and didn’t post an $8 million bond for improvements such as roads, water and sewage systems.

The county refused to extend the deadline, and the developers sued. The state Supreme Court in 1997 upheld a district court decision not to extend the deadline.