Steamboat residents get win in governing board vote

Published: Feb. 7, 2018 at 6:56 PM PST
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UPDATE 2/8/18:

The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Governing Board has voted 6-3 not to move the property in question from Reno jurisdiction to Washoe County jurisdiction, a win for residents who want their area to stay essentially as is.


Time was, much of the Truckee Meadows resembled Steamboat. Today most of those formerly rural areas to the north have been swallowed up in suburban sprawl. Not in Steamboat, just south of Reno. At least yet. Those who live there were seeking a different lifestyle. They and others enjoy it.

"If you were out here on any given day you would see groups of cyclists coming through here, people riding horses," says longtime resident Judy Coulter.."And it should remain that."

But Coulter and others say that lifestyle is under threat.

Years ago, the three local governments agreed to a settlement that carved up the local area into "spheres of influence" to guide future planning and development. Rhodes Road, which bisects this little valley, is where Reno's sphere of influence ends and the county's begins.

Last year a Southern California company proposed a development of more than 200 homes on pasture land north of the road.

They applied for annexation into the city, but that application was pulled in the face of resistance from the neighborhood. Residents argue this land and other sites where the spheres meet were intended and are included in the master plans as transition zones.

"They made it a reasonable transition from rural to urban and now a developer wants to come in and change that."

The pasture land is zoned for one-acre parcels. With that zoning, just 28 homes could be built there. The developer is proposing to build a total of more than 200 more, almost all of them on city sized lots.

Consultants for the developer have proposed a strip of one-acre lots on the north side of this roadway as a transition zone. Residents on the south side say that's no transition zone at all.

"It has to be gradual," says Coulter. 'That density increase has to be gradual for it to be a transition."

The matter goes before the Regional Governing Board 2 p.m. February 8 at the County Commission chambers.

But Coulter is worried returning the decision to the county could clear the way for the higher density development.

How? Well, there are six parcels, most with zoning that would allow higher density, but because of a flood plain and geothermal issues, can't be built on. Put them all together, transferring the unusable density to just the pasture, the whole development can be averaged out to fit that one-acre zoning.

County ordinances, she says, would allow just such a maneuver. At the hearing she'll be arguing the decision should be shared with all three governments having a say in the outcome.

We attempted to contact the consultants for the developer for comment on this story. Our calls were not returned.