Proposed development threatens Steamboat's rural lifestyle

Published: Feb. 28, 2017 at 6:34 PM PST
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Steamboat offers its residents a rural lifestyle and all that implies.

"We have roosters, chickens, horses, livestock, flood irrigation from water rights dating back to the mid-1800s," says Judy Coulter. "It's a specific way of life."

But Coulter and others say that would all change if proposed development on the other side of the street is allowed.

The property is a meadow now, but a southern California developer is proposing annexation into the city, and what could be a couple hundred homes or more on city-sized lots. A local consulting,firm, Rubicon Design Group, is preparing the proposal.

"The neighborhood's concerned that there's a rural character and we respect that," says Rubicon's Mike Railey.. "That's why we want to provide a line of one-acre lots along Rhodes Road to match what they have."

But that seems like a very thin buffer to the neighborhood to the south.

"Four one-acre lots along Rhodes Road and then immediately jump to high density, 6,000-square-foot lots for an urban development," says Coulter.

There are a number of concerns: traffic and impacts on the area's aquifer, but most of all city congestion right next door or in this case, the other side of the street.

"To try to make such an abrupt transition from a rural lifestyle to an urban lifestyle just isn't compatible," argues Coulter.

Coulter and others point to the agreement between local governments which established spheres of influence for each.

Reno's sphere reaches its southern border right here along Rhodes Road. That makes it the Reno planner's decision, but they say there was an agreement for a transition area.

Railey says the property to the north of the lot in question is planned for even greater density--including multi-family homes, so what would be called Steamboat Meadows would, in fact, provide that transition.

"It's not our goal to bring urban development into Steamboat. It's to respect and look at the existing zoning and even the existing zoning in the county is more intense than what we're proposing."

The application for annexation and zoning change is on Wednesday night's Reno Planning Commission agenda, but the developers have requested a continuance, to rework their proposal, Railey says, and come back to the neighborhood and planners with something more detailed.

The meeting will, however, allow for public comment.