North county project seeks variance
If you go
What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners
When: 1 p.m. Thursday
Where: Douglas County Courthouse, 1616 Eight St., Minden
A project proposed for land located north of Haystack Drive near Sunridge could increase school overcrowding, Douglas County school officials said.
In a letter to county planners, Douglas County School Superintendent Teri White pointed out that the 178-home Valley Knolls subdivision could increase the school population if it averaged one child per home.
“Should the homes attract families with more children, the district would not be able to meet the demand with current school sites in the area,” she said.
Sunridge is served by Jacks Valley Elementary School, which has around 400 students. Piñon Hills Elementary School also serves around 400 students.
One of the key questions on Thursday will be whether county commissioners will approve the applicant’s request for a single entryway into the project.
Under Douglas County code, any project with more than 20 homes should have two means of access.
Plans presented for Valley Knolls include only one access, but developers say they’re willing to add an emergency access earlier in the project.
Valley Knolls is only one of the developments proposed for the site between Sunridge and the Douglas-Carson line.
Sunridge residents are opposing the project, saying traffic will increase and homes will occupy their viewshed.
Resident Jeff Galloway said the project should have to pay for improvements to North Sunridge Drive.
“Traffic on Sunridge Drive has deteriorated this road bed,” he said. “The Indian Hills General Improvement District has little or no funding to maintain these roads.”
Endangered species spotted in the area attracted concern from two residents.
Long Drive resident Mike Lefancois said he has observed Carson Valley monkeyflower growing in the area, which he said has been categorized as critically imperiled by the Nevada Natural Heritage Program.
Haystack Drive resident Kevan Lesch said that three score Western toads passed his home heading north. He said he was told by the Nevada Department of Wildlife that the toads summer in higher elevations and then migrate into the desert where they hibernate for the winter.
Resident Teresa Froncek Rankin was concerned with the access being located on a curve.
Planning Manager Heather Ferris said the Valley Knolls project is smaller than the 300 homes proposed in 2007.
The project includes 33 acres of open space and trails. A portion of the property that’s slated for commercial is not included in the current plan.
Valley Knolls is the first project on land sold by the BLM north of Sunridge since the Great Recession. The Riverwood commercial development built the large flat spot on the county line, but work stopped in 2008.
Planning commissioners recommended the county require an emergency access in the project’s first phase.
Because it’s first, developers hesitate to put in a second access without knowing where other projects will want to put in their streets.
Chris Baker of Manhard Consultants said developers were unsuccessful in obtaining easements for a second access to the development from neighboring property owners.
Developer Keith Serpa is seeking a variance to allow for one entrance into the project with a secondary access provided after other projects in the North Douglas County Specific Plan come forward.
The specific plan affects 624 acres of land on both sides of Highway 395 that was under the control of the Bureau of Land Management until it was sold earlier in the century.
In addition to the former Riverwood commercial development and casino zoning, Big George Ventures is also proposing a subdivision in the vicinity.