Consider other projects before approving Park
September 28, 2016
The article in the Sept. 9 issue of The Record-Courier covers a request for approval by Gardnerville, Minden and the County regarding the Park Ranch Holdings proposed 2,900-home project.
It brings to mind the request in April of this year by Jacques and Dominique Etchegoyhen on behalf of Park Cattle and Land to the Towns and County for support of a conservation easement. The easement would cover 2,835 acres west of Highway 395. As I understand it, under the easement the property owners continue to work the land but cannot develop it for residential, industrial or commercial purposes. Per Dominique the conservation easements are worth $10,000 an acre.
During the presentation to the Minden Town Board the need to preserve the open space, the scenic view of the Sierras, and the pristine rural nature of the area were all cited in support of the proposed easement.
Now Park Land and Cattle want the approval from the Towns and County to build 2900 homes in the open space on the east side of Highway 395. They want the approval to build the units but have not submitted a specific plan due to the cost.
I feel the County Commissioners should consider the current situation of The Ranch at Gardnerville when considering any approval of the 2900 units.
The Commissioners approved this project and units have been constructed but the concerns of county staff still have not been resolved. Staff had concerns about access to and from Highway 395 for the majority of the proposed units. Under the existing infrastructure access for most units would be by utilizing Buckeye or by going through Winhaven. Staff feel additional access to 395 should be provided by utilizing Zerolene.
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The use of Zerolene would require a design decision. A design that would be subject to flooding or one that would be above the expected flooded area. The access at 395 will also need a design decision. Will a traffic light or turn lanes be required? The developer will not able to determine his costs until the designs are finalized.
The design of the southward extension of Heybourne from Buckeye also needs finalization. When the Monterra project was first proposed Rob Anderson stated the design of Heybourne was to be the standard for the future extension of it. That design was revised to make the Ranch at Gardnerville project more viable (read less costly for the developer). The design of the intersection of Heybourne and Buckeye needs finalization. Per Rob Anderson a major drainage problem exists at this intersection and impacts finalization of the design. At one time a round-about was being considered at this area. The V&T Railroad right of way may also have an impact as Bentley people have expressed an interest in operating a rail service through this area. The developer will need a resolution to the design in order to determine his costs.
Concerns about the possible flooding of portions of the project by drainage from the east side of the project have lead to a proposal of a drainage ditch along the east side of the project. The drainage would flow from the ditch to a channel along the side of Buckeye and then into the Martin Slough. This would further complicate the existing drainage problem at the intersection of Heybourne and Buckeye. Again the developer needs design finalization in order to determine his costs.
I fear that once the developer gets these cost numbers he may decide they do not make the project viable and abandon it. Since the Commissioners gave approval of the project and the start of construction without resolving the above issues thus allowing the developer to finalize his costs I feel a number of legal issues will have to be negotiated.
On the proposed Park project, in order to prevent a possible similar situation, I feel the Commissioners need to address a number of issues and have a finalized plan.
What, if any, impact does the addition of 2900 homes have on the State's redistribution of revenues?
What will be the impact on the sanitation district, the fire district, the sheriff's district, the school district, the towns, the water providers, etc? They need to be consulted as to the impact the 2900 homes will have on their current infrastructure, the need for additions, their cost and their financing.
Surely the developer should have a good estimate of his costs prior to starting any construction.
I also feel the Commissioners need to address several quality of life issues. What will be the effect of the 2900 homes, with driveways and road, be on a recharging of the aquifer? How will water right issues be resolved?
What will be the effect of the 2900 homes on the existing air quality? The 2,900 homes will probably mean about 5,800 cars (1 for each adult plus recreation vehicles and service vehicles such as UPS, FedEx etc), 2900 heating units (furnaces and fireplaces) along with a large number of barbecue grills. With the mountains and the prevailing winds to the west the area has a rather unique climate zone as emissions could be trapped under some weather conditions.
How will construction materials for the homes and roads be delivered to the proposed project site? Muller Lane, east of 395, has '"Not a Truck Route" signs posted. Will the route be from 395 to Buckeye, pass the school and then to the project site?
Again, I feel these issues need to be addressed and finalized prior to granting approval of the 2,900 units. The Commissioners should not give any approval to start construction and expect future Commissioners to resolve these issues.
Sanford Deyo is a Minden resident.