Damonte Ranch residents angry over cattle guards

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Development is growing in the South Meadows, but one community is dealing with two obnoxious neighbors.

Back in July, two cattle guards were placed in the roundabout at McCauley Ranch Boulevard and Gold Mine Drive.

They were a requirement put on the developer of a nearby Lennar subdivision by the Reno Planning Commission to keep wild horses safe and prevent them from coming into the neighborhood from Rio Wrangler Drive.

But these aren’t typical cattle guards. They are extra wide to prevent the horses from jumping over them, and they are raised above the ground. Engineers with Lennar say the reason for that is a high pressure water main runs underneath the area, and traditional sunken cattle guards would hit the pipe.

But neighbors say the guards are creating more problems than solutions.

“There's [sic] bottles and papers and construction debris,” Denise Lewis, a resident in the area, said. “When the snow comes, and it rains and melts and freezes, it's going to be stuck in there for God knows how long.”

People in the area are also concerned about the material used to make the guards and the space between each rail.

The concerns all came to a head Monday night at a community meeting meant to identify problems and possible solutions.

One neighbor said her friend’s son got his foot stuck between the rails. Others were concerned about the damage the extra wide guards are doing to their cars.

Most of the people there had been living in the area well before the guards were built, and felt they were affecting their property value. But one of the biggest concerns was the noise created by cars driving over the guards.

“Like a low rumble of thunder,” Lewis said “And there's [sic] two right next to each other, so it's constant. So I can't imagine living right there and hearing it all night.”

Tom McGhee and his wife are two of those people. Their property backs up to the roundabout. McGhee says they haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since the guards were installed.

“We hear them night and day,” he said. “The noise that's generated by the vehicles going over it night and day keeps my wife and I awake- 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m.!”

A lot of anger was directed at the developer of the Lennar subdivision, mainly for the fact that the guards were originally approved to be built on the opposite side of the roundabout. However; the developer requested the change citing concerns over safety, especially in the winter when ice and snow will likely pack into the grates. Engineers with Lennar said where the guards were installed is a flatter grade, and will reduce the risk of slides in the winter.

But people in the existing community fought back.

“I’m sorry but change your roads,” one woman said. “That is on you and your division. That was not supposed to affect my division.”

Others said it didn’t matter what side of the roundabout the guards were on, they shouldn’t be in the neighborhood to begin with.

“To protect the horses properly you need to put the cattle guards and the fencing outside the neighborhoods,” another woman argued.

“I didn’t have much of a say in it,” Dustin Baker, the developer on the project, said. “I just needed to do what was required of me and that's what we did. I'll just speak for myself, I don't like it either. I've built several subdivisions in that area, never [were the guards] a condition on any other subdivision we had. I apologize personally for the grief that it's caused everyone in the room. I take that very seriously. I just don't want to get the misconception that this was done with some evil intent”

Unfortunately, this is a problem that isn’t going away, and it has no immediate solution. But city officials say they are working to find one.

“Wild horses have been a challenge in all of the development for the past 25 years in the South Meadows because we were basically invading their natural habitat,” Councilwoman Naomi Duerr said. “This was not intended to harm people or make their lives miserable. This was intended to protect animals.”