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Sunridge developer wants reduction in lot size; planning board says no

by Sharon Carter

When Sunridge developer Bill Wellman asks Douglas County commissioners to let him reduce some lot sizes at the North County golf community on April 1, he will do so without the blessing of planning commissioners.

After eight Sunridge residents objected to the proposed reduction from 7,000- to 5,000-square-foot lots, planning commissioners tied 3-3 on Wellman’s request. The tie vote at the planners’ March meeting will be forwarded to the county commission as a recommendation for denial.

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

Sunridge resident Grady Goodwin said he had heard all about builders’ and developers’ rights.

“What are my rights?” Grady said. “When we bought (there), we were told there would be 130 premium estate lots surrounded by the golf course – with a 15,000-square-foot average lot size and 2,200-square-foot homes. The lots were to cost $100,000. Let him (Wellman) do what he promised or refund part of the premium prices we paid for our ridge lots.”

Residents Norman McClain, Richard Fairfax and Ralph Dudley also voiced concerns about the proposal.

“Access for development (activities) – the concrete and lumber trucks – should come from the south,” McClain said. “And, no modular homes.”

Dudley said he was concerned that the ridge lots would not be buffered from the higher density development.

Countering residents’ fears that smaller lots would mean cheaper, less-controlled development and more construction traffic on neighborhood streets, Wellman said he would direct heavy construction traffic to the South Sunridge Drive extension of Plymouth Drive. He also said smaller lots, which “may be more reasonably priced,” did not automatically equal cheaper development.

“Spanish Trail (in Las Vegas) has 7,000 square-foot lots on a long cul-de-sac with houses that cost $10 million,” Wellman said. “DBC Summerlin and Eagles are similar (pricy) developments. There’s a demand for smaller lots – many residents don’t want large lots with the (attendant) maintenance and worries.”

Wellman said he got the idea for smaller lots when he was looking for a home for his mother.

“The 5,000 minimum gives us the flexibility we need – if the market isn’t there, we can go back to larger lots,” he said. “We do have the right to build this. And, we have a builder who desires to purchase these lots and build the houses.”

In other business, the Douglas County Planning Commission:

n Unanimously approved preliminary commercial floor allocations of 2,299 square feet in the Kingsbury Community Plan area at 270 Kingsbury Grade and of 2,000 square feet at 188 Highway 50 in Round Hill. The commission vote also reserved an additional 745 square feet for the Round Hill project in the event more commercial area becomes available for Round Hill. Commercial floor area allotments are distributed to Lake Tahoe communities by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and are awarded on a competitive basis by local governments.

n Approved, by a 4-1 vote, a development application and variance request from Planning Commissioner Richard Gardner. Gardner, who recused himself from discussions and did not vote on the item, needed permission to reduce rear- and side-yard setbacks in order to build a house, avoiding trees and boulders, on an oddly-shaped lot north of Skyland at Lake Tahoe.

Voting against the request was Planning Commissioner Virginia Henningsen. Henningsen said the house plans could be changed to a point where a variance would not be needed.

Planning commission actions are forwarded as recommendations to the board of Douglas County Commissioners.