DAYTON -- With zoning changes in place, residential development of another Dayton ranch has entered its early stages.
Lyon County Commissioners last week unanimously approved zoning changes that would allow one residence per acre on about 500 acres of the 950-acre Winters Ranch. Project engineer Dennis Smith said steep terrain, flood plain and other constraints will limit where homes can be built and leave much of the property in open space.
Located on the south side of Highway 50 into the Dayton Valley from Mound House, the ranch has been owned by John and Kay Winters for the past 50 years. New owners and applicants for the Winters Sunrise Properties development are the North Tahoe Investment Group, headed by partners Gary Hill and Dale Denio.
In deciding to sell the ranch, attorney Ernie Maupin said the Winterses had many of the same concerns as those who have voiced opposition to having too high a residential density for the property.
"These applications are really the first step in the overall plan," Maupin told the board. "The purpose is to put zoning into place that will allow Dennis Smith and his firm to put together maps for planned unit developments. The intent of the developers is to maintain as much of the open space and greenbelt as possible, while still making their project economically feasible."
A planned unit development allows clustering of homes on smaller lots, preserving open space, but maintaining a projects overall allowable density. Maupin estimated a final total of between 400 and 500 homes.
In answer to concerns expressed at a recent Mound House advisory board meeting about the possibility of homes being built on one-acre sites adjacent to the Bureau of Land Management land that is projected to be the location of a national wild-horse interpretive center, Smith said the 326 acres adjacent to the site are being considered for a possible land swap with the bureau.
"With the steep hillsides up there we are pretty limited on what we can do," Smith said. "Due to the terrain, with one-acre zoning we would probably not get more than 100 homes up there. We see a land swap with the BLM as a very good option and that's what our goal is.
"However, the process with BLM can take up to two years with no guarantees and we have to plan now for the entire ranch. We are not trying to turn it into a subdivision. We are trying to master plan it."
Smith said the location and cost of the project would prohibit entry-level housing prices.
Loren Kreck, a Dayton resident living adjacent to flood plain in the lower boundaries of the project, expressed concern with the disturbing of possible mercury tailings left over from the days of gold mining in the area and wanted assurances domestic wells and air quality would not be detrimentally affected.
"I am not here to stop the project, but we should proceed slowly," Kreck said. "I am here to warn the commission, there may be legal repercussions. We need to proceed carefully."