R-C Neighborhoods: Sierra Estates offer a private oasis for residents
Where is Sierra Estates? Not many people have heard of the subdivision, but for the 60 plus families that live there, Sierra Estates is probably the best of all worlds, and definitely the best place to live in the Carson Valley.
Sierra Estates is comprised of the one acre or larger lots located on Shawnee and Green Acre on the north side of Jacks Valley Road. It is the only planned subdivision east of the fire station, and it has it’s own general improvement district, a fact that the landowners don’t advertise.
“Nobody knows about it and we’d like to keep it that way,” said Larry English who has lived in the subdivision since 1981 or 1982 and is the provisional water operator for the district. “All joking aside, there is a whole history to this water system. It brought this small subdivision together.”
After the developers built the system, it was sold to Sierra Pacific Power. The power company changed the rate system and water costs skyrocketed.
“We couldn’t have that,” said Ken Floto who moved to the area some 30 years ago. “The property owners bought it back with a loan from the county and formed a GID.”
Helen Dietrich was one of the original board members of the general improvement district. Other board members were Floto, Charlie Fischer, Bob McDonald and Lou Bowler.
“There were only six houses in this whole area when we built our house in 1965,” said Dietrich. “I don’t think there were any when my husband, Raymond, and I moved here from Colorado. Raymond went to work at the Jacks Valley Ranch and then later for the Stewart Indian School Ranch. We’ve been in this area since 1943.”
Dietrich said that she doesn’t understand how the subdivision and the subsequent development of private land became known as Jacks Valley.
“Jacks Valley is that beautiful valley where the ranch is,” said Dietrich. “That’s where the first school was, too, just a little bit south of the fire station. It was deteriorated when we moved here in 1943. All that was left was the frame work.”
“But we still have the wagon ruts through our property,” said Floto. “The trail that the emigrants used, you can still see it. I guess we’re part of history.”
Sierra Estates has lost much of its identity over the years as houses continue to spring up on the surrounding land. But Jolene Orvis said that she can tell the difference when she drives down Jacks Valley Road.
“I guess it’s part of Jacks Valley now, but it is the oldest section and the big mature trees make it special,” said Orvis.
Orvis and her family moved to Sierra Estates in 1994. They owned a home in Indian Hills, but she and her husband, Scott, soon realized that they should have bought a house with land.
“I love my chickens and garden and room to roam,” said Orvis. “This is the perfect place for us to live, but it’s a lot of work. That’s something we didn’t think of when we wanted land.”
Jim Reinholdt and his wife, Karen, were looking for a home that had acreage, and was within commuting distance to Washoe Valley when they found their home in Sierra Estates.
“We had a couple of other requirements, like no wood roof and a fire hydrant nearby,” said Reinholdt who is the chief of East Fork Fire Prevention District. “We love it here, but until the kids got their driver’s licenses, it was a real challenge.”
Orvis agreed. “My son, David, takes Tae Kwon Do in the Ranchos and Jenny is in Gymnastics on Deer Run Road in Carson City. Between that and running every other type of errand I’m on the road constantly.”
However, nobody seems to consider the distance from town as a drawback. It is a blessing.
“It’s like my own private oasis,” said Dietrich. “It’s private and out of the way.”
“And quiet,” said English. “We are isolated, and I kind of like that. I think, in a way, that is why many people came here.”
“It’s away from town, but still convenient to town,” said Reinholdt. “The forest service land is right out our back yards and Clear Creek is nearby. It is really the best of all worlds, but it is changing rapidly. We have a lot of adjusting to do.”
Reinholdt is referring to the commercial development located near the intersection of Jacks Valley Road and U.S. 395.
“My stand point is biased,” said Reinholdt. “I’d rather the commercial than the way is was originally zoned for 400 multi-family units.”
“I just don’t understand the concept,” said Floto. “First the land was one-acre minimum, then multi-family and now commercial. And how do you redevelop something that was never developed in the first place? None of this makes any sense.”
“I’m trying to be positive, but I don’t that is the right location for them (stores.) It’s ruining the area,” said Orvis. “We live here to be away from development. Isn’t that why most people buy away from a town?”
Dietrich, however, is not all that unhappy with the commercial development.
“Raymond used to drive me to Target in Reno all the time, so I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s kind of great. Besides, there is nothing we can do about it.”
One of the biggest complaints about the development is the increased traffic and the loss of the spectacular night skies.
“It is taking away from the rural atmosphere,” said Reinholdt. “But the night skies are already lost with security lights that people are putting in. I know I said that we have to adjust to it, but I don’t like it.”
“I consider the development as typical grown impact. It’s negative to some and to others it just like any other kind of growth,” said English. “It’s good for the tax base in Douglas County, but yes, we are losing more of our night sky, and that’s terrible. Stars in the city? Never. Stars in Sierra Estates? There used to be.”
Despite the changes, Orvis said that she has no intentions of leaving her Sierra Estates home, a sentiment echoed by everyone.
As a matter of fact Floto insists that he won’t move, no matter what.
“Not ever,” Floto said. “They’ll have to pack me in a safe with a shovel right here. I plan to die right here.”
Jolene Orvis: “We like it here. We have very nice neighbors, they are great, and a lifestyle we love. I’m just trying to roll with the flow.”
Ken Floto: “There used to be more wildlife, big flocks of doves and jackrabbits and lots of deer. Twenty to twenty five years ago the deer used to eat our roses. We didn’t mind it one bit.”
Jim Reinholdt: “It’s a nice area with the ability to have horses and close to town. The location is historical with the Pony Express and wagon wheel ruts from the immigrants.”
Helen Dietrich: “The area known as Jacks Valley was all open space and BLM. But I guess I have to expect a few changes in more than 50 years.”
Larry English: “Why Sierra Estates? It just happened. What kept us here? Sierra Estates.”