Planning commission approves Ranchos project 6-1 |

Planning commission approves Ranchos project 6-1

A variety of trash and animal carcasses currently litter the 80 acres proposed for Rancho Sierra off the south end of Tillman Lane in the Ranchos.
Kurt Hildebrand

The cost of a groundwater study in the Carson and Walker river basins could be charged to water users whether they like it or not.

Douglas County Planning Commissioner David Akola advocated for what he called a geohydraulic study before he would vote for any project.

The state engineer went to the Legislature last year seeking a special assessment against the property of water users to pay for groundwater studies, which cost $3 million. That bill died in committee, but has been part of an ongoing effort by the state engineer to assert authority over groundwater use in the state.

Under Nevada law, basins are not supposed to draw more water than is being recharged. The traditional number in Carson Valley has been 35,000 acre feet.

But competition for that water includes municipal, well owners and supplemental agricultural rights.

Akola, a Topaz Ranch Estates resident, expressed concerns about the water supply in Carson Valley during the planning commission hearing on Rancho Sierra.

In the end, he was the lone voice against the project, which was recommended by planning commissioners 6-1.

Located south of the Gardnerville Ranchos on property that has been slated for development since at least 1996,

Rancho Sierra is seeking a planned development to build 239 homes on property it owns south of the Gardnerville Ranchos.

The general improvement district is in charge of serving the project and has offered a will-serve.

Resident Deni Castor thanked the developers for bringing a more streamlined version of the project forward. Instead of seven variances, they are seeking only one, which is to ignore a requirement they leave a 50-foot right of way on an irrigation ditch that has been abandoned for more than a decade.

The 80-acre project is zoned for single family residential and will have lot sizes similar to those in neighboring homes.

Residents opposing the project cited traffic and the loss of a parcel they used to access federal land.

The developer will construct a trailhead to access the Ranchos sandpits. Both the Rancho Sierra and neighboring parcel are privately owned.

Developer representative Susan Pansky said that Ranchos residents near the project won’t benefit from construction.

“This wouldn’t be considered beneficial by someone who was using the property as open space, or who had open space behind their house,” she said.

The project must acquire 235 development rights and water rights to build. While no part is considered, developers were open to improving an 11-acre detention basin like the one across from the Grant Avenue Walmart. That would depend on the willingness of the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District to maintain the site.

Ranchos resident and Planning Commissioner Bryan Oland pointed out there are already several basins located along Tillman Lane.

The project must go before Douglas County commissioners for final approval.