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Residents raise questions about Washoe Tribe plans along Hobo Hot Springs Road

by Sharon Carter

As the Washoe Tribe prepares to erect Phase 2 of its Carson Valley-Tahoe Self-Storage facilities in Indian Hills, residents along Hobo Hot Springs Road plan to raise some questions to county officials.

Jeff Hardison, whose property borders that of Washoe Ranch tribal property said he and his neighbors only recently learned of the planned construction. They have asked the county why they were not informed of the Tribe’s plans.

“I was told that in 1994, the Washoe Tribe formally notified Douglas County it had adopted its comprehensive land use plan and designated zoning,” Hardison said.

But, he said, neither the builder who built the biscuit-colored house at the south end of Hobo Hot Springs Road nor the real estate agent who handled his 1994 purchase informed him that the land adjacent to the property had been designated by the Tribe for commercial development. Nor was he told that the new Indian Hills General Improvement District water treatment plant would be built at the north end of Hobo Hot Springs Road.

“But, if the county didn’t inform them, they may not have known,” Hardison said.

He contends the county should have shared what information it had with area property owners.

At a recent neighborhood get-together, issues were raised concerning increased traffic and litter on Hobo Hot Springs Road, a two-car-wide dirt lane which, Hardison said, has fewer than 20 cars per day.

“The road will be the driveway for the storage units,” he said. “So the traffic will get heavier. This is a quiet neighborhood with kids and pets. People from the Carson Valley Equestrian Center ride horses up the road.

“It gets pretty bad if it goes a couple of months before it’s graded. Will the county pave or do something with the road?

“What about illuminated billboards we’re told may also go in? Those things can be pretty bright when they glare in your bedroom window.”

Hardison said he wanted “to make some noise” and get his and his neighbors’ concerns out into the open.

Hardison had brought the subject up during the public comment portion of a county commission meeting earlier this month. He said there may yet be an outside chance of influencing the project.

“I don’t want to stop people from making money, I’d just like to keep the neighborhood quiet,” Hardison said.

He said tribal representatives he contacted assured him they wanted to keep the rural area livable and did not want to have a negative effect on the neighborhood.

“If this thing goes and it’s the way the world is going to be, I’ll live in harmony and be the best neighbor they could ask for,” Hardison said.

“But, the most neighborly thing they could do would be to take the project elsewhere, like to the tribal property on the other side of Highway 395. But, they tell me that land is prime commercial real estate that another “big box” store is looking at.

“My feeling is there is a potential for problems, but there are also things that can be done to lessen them.”

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said the county does not have much to say about the situation.

“If the project is on Washoe land, we don’t have any jurisdiction,” Holler said. “Residents can come in and express their concerns and we’ll forward them to the Tribe. That’s all we can do.”

Holler said he feels there is at least an expectation that the county has more authority than it actually does in such circumstances.

Curtis Millsap, the realty officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Western Nevada agency in Carson City said the Washoe Tribe is very sensitive to the concerns of its neighbors.

“They don’t arbitrarily build -they establish their own zoning laws and they do it (zoning) within reason,” Millsap said. “As a separate nation, though, they have autonomy. The county government can no more direct the (Washoe) Tribe’s actions than it can tell another neighbor, like Canada, to do something.”

Washoe Tribe economic development officer Chris Knox said Monday he was unable to comment on the situation.

The issue is on the commission agenda for discussion at 5 p.m.

In other business, county commissioners are scheduled to:

n Consider reducing the minimum parcel size in the final residential area to be developed at Sunridge Estates in Indian Hills.

Developer Bill Wellman is asking to reduce the minimum lot size in the special gated section east of the Sunridge Golf Course from 7,000 to 5,000 square feet. The reduction would increase the number of available home sites from 192 to 278.

Douglas County Planning commissioners tied (3-3) on the request at their March 9 meeting. The tie vote has been forwarded to the county commission as a recommendation for denial.

n Consider raising day-use events fees at the Minden-Tahoe Airport from 11 cents per square foot to 12-1/2 cents, a 13.6 percent increase.