Lyon County growing in more ways than one

Growth in Lyon County isn't limited to housing developments and population; the size of the county is increasing as well.

As of Oct. 1, about 10 square miles were added to Lyon County's 1,994 square-mile area when a boundary line between Washoe and Lyon was moved north about 2 miles on a 5-mile stretch of land.

"It's pretty remarkable when a county divests land," said Steve Hasson, planning director for Lyon County. "Two things that are birthrights for counties are water and land, so for a county to divest itself of land is unusual."

The move came about when Wade Development Corp. of Reno began planning a 6,000-home development on about 5,000 acres of land north of Fernley in what was then Washoe County.

Because the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe's reservation is between the developed areas of Washoe County and the proposed development, services such as fire and police protection would have to come from Fernley. If Washoe County were to provide basic services to the development, it would cost about $150 million over 18 years, while the development would bring about $101 million in tax revenue during the same period.

Both the location of the development and the anticipated cost of delivering services led the developers to approach Lyon County Commissioner Leroy Goodman about moving the boundary.

Goodman contacted Assemblyman Tom Grady, who sponsored AB440, allowing for the change in the boundary, during the 2005 legislative session. The bill passed the Legislature on March 25, 2005.

Hasson said the next move would be to offer temporary zoning to property owners in the 23 new sections and hold a public hearing for permanent zoning.

"They can't do anything with the land until we rezone it," he said. "It's a good thing it's winter."

The development, called Sonterra Fernley, will be a gated community and the first phase will encompass about 1,600 acres, said Patty Snyder, a partner with Wade Development. She said it is a joint venture between Wade Development and Lakemont Communities and would total more than 6,000 units, including some multi-family. The first phase will be completed in about 18 months, Snyder said, with the entire project finished in about seven to 10 years.

She said the development will have starter homes, custom residences, a senior community, an equestrian section and eventually a golf course. "But the bulk of it will be traditional single-family," she added.

Snyder said the developer sought the boundary line adjustment for the sake of convenience.

"It's just easier to develop an entire master plan in one jurisdiction and also from a geographic standpoint it makes a lot more sense," she said.

Hasson said Lyon County was glad to get the additional 10 square miles and offered San Francisco as an example of what can be done with that much land.

"San Francisco is 12 square miles with 900,000 people on it," he said. "That gives you an idea of what can happen on 10 square miles. A lot."

n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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