Residents say ‘no’ to complex |

Residents say ‘no’ to complex

by Sharon Carter

A handful of Douglas County residents gathered Thursday on Elges Lane to protest the proposed construction of a three-building, 40-unit affordable housing complex they say will negatively impact the neighborhood.

Stephen Lee, who bought his $185,000 home at 1350 Elges Lane on April 30, 1997, worries his home’s value will depreciate if the Crestmore Village Apartment complex is built on a five-acre parcel across the street. He said he feels betrayed.

“I heard this thing has been in the works for some time, so I’m trying to research it to see just how long,” he said. “Our understanding was that affordable housing was to be integrated into neighborhoods, not clustered in a single neighborhood. We also thought that there were going to be buffer areas.”

Lee had assumed his home was to be in a buffer zone between existing apartment buildings in the neighborhood, which includes the Rancho Vista affordable housing complex, and future upscale single-family dwellings.

“We weren’t told we could be isolated in the middle of a whole community of apartment buildings,” Lee said. “In 10 to 20 years, with huge apartment developments, this is where all the crime will be.”

Lee’s next door neighbor, Mable Havens, 85, believes there are better places for affordable housing apartments to be constructed.

Crestmore designers have placed the complex’s two story buildings directly across from the two-story wood and red brick home Havens and her late husband built more than 20 years ago.

“My husband and I worked real hard to have this property,” Havens said. “I don’t feel we were given enough advance notice about it, we weren’t given enough time to do anything.”

Other residents on Elges, while less likely than Havens and Lee to lose their views of the Pine Nut Mountains to Crestmore, fear it will open the door to similar, future developments.

Laura Moline, who has lived on Elges for 4 1/2 years, said she does not believe such a project would benefit the town.

“How is this going to affect the high vacancy rates apartment owners in the area already face?” Moline asks. “And, do we want to attract people to our town based on (available) low income housing?”

Vic Bergstrom and his mother, Rose, have lived on Elges since 1974. They feel the complex is incompatible with the neighborhood.

Rose Bergstrom, 89, said she has concerns about traffic and overcrowding in Gardnerville schools if the family units are built.

Although the Crestmore site is not in the town of Gardnerville, Vic Bergstrom said he thinks the developer, Picerne Development Company, “did the whole thing backwards.”

Bergstrom said Picerne representatives should have gone before the Gardnerville Town Board before taking the project to the Douglas County Planning Commission for approval.

Bergstrom said the town board, an elected body which takes care of town business and advises the planning and county commissions on town-related issues, should have heard the proposal first.

“The procedure just infuriates me,” Bergstrom said. “I’m not sure they didn’t break the law.”

Russell McFadden has spent the past 22 years since his retirement from the Lafayette, Calif. fire department living at 1370 Elges. McFadden said he was not opposed to the apartments, just the location.

“There are many places where the residents wouldn’t be affected so much,” McFadden said.

In particular, McFadden suggested locating the complex in an open field farther south on Elges, on the west side of the street. There, he said, it would be adjacent to existing apartment buildings and nearer to Highway 395.

Dick Garren owns two houses in the Apollo Avenue-Waterloo Lane section of the neighborhood.

An East Valley resident, Garren said he was not in favor of another apartment complex in the neighborhood.

Bob Roberts, who lives a few blocks away on Toler Lane, insists affordable housing properties have historically brought areas “more crime, domestic abuse, drunkenness, drug use, gang activity, illiterate immigrants and neighborhood decay.

“If it goes in, the biggest problem will be what the county can do to safeguard the quality and type of tenant,” Roberts said. “That design will determine if it is going to be another slum.”

Cal Braner, who bought his home at the corner of Elges and Waterloo Lane from Vic Bergstrom in 1996, summed up the sense sadness felt by the five home owners who live in the immediate vicinity of the Crestmore Village site and many of the others.

“You look out across the bucolic fields and think you’ll enjoy the view for a long, long time,” Braner said. “I guess nothing’s forever.”

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