VIRGINIA CITY - Concerns about water, soil contamination, property values, taxes, political power shifts and the end of a rural way of life are fueling opposition to a proposed 8,600-home planned unit development in northern Storey County.
JoAnn Aldrich, of Virginia City, has begun a petition drive to try to stop the development. She's circulating more than 20 petitions in more than a half-dozen locations around Virginia City seeking a countywide election referendum on any master plan amendment change.
"Everyone was sitting back and waiting for someone to do it," she said. "I had the time, so I started doing it."
A large crowd is expected to be on hand Thursday when the Storey County Planning Commission hears developer Blake Smith's request for a master-plan amendment and zone change on land in the center of the county that used to house TRW and Aerojet companies.
Smith's company, called Virginia Highlands LLC, has requested the county's master plan and zoning for 6,767 acres zoned special industrial and 1,822.91 acres owned by Gate Way Co. LLC, zoned forestry, to be amended to allow mixed uses through a planned-unit development zoning designation for the Cordevista project.
Smith's plan is to provide a commercial and residential development to house workers at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park, which is expected to have 8,000 employees by the end of 2008.
Aldrich said as of Monday more than 275 residents had signed petitions, with more still circulating. Today and Wednesday, she said, the petitions will be collected and the signatures counted, but Aldrich said the effort would not stop there.
"We will continue to collect names until the commissioners meeting (on Cordevista)," she said.
Aldrich said she was mainly interested in making sure people were informed and understand what the development means to the county.
"Across the county, usually developers have done deals before they even start and by the time people find out about it it's too late," she said.
Aldrich believes Cordevista will lead to lower property values for current residents if homes in the development don't sell as well as the developer anticipates.
Other residents have expressed concern about where the water will come from. Smith has said he will bring in water and possibly store it in the ground, raising more concerns over possible contamination.
Aerojet developed fuels on the property and TRW used the property to manufacture small explosive pellets used in air bags.
Aldrich warned that any master plan change or zone change would be permanent.
"Once you have a master plan amendment and a zone change, that will not revert back, whether Cordevista is built or not," she said. "That area will be developed. That's why we're getting on it so quickly."
Aldrich said this was not a 'stop development' crusade.
"We'd like to do something that would restrict development for mega-developments and that's a whole different scenario than a few homes being built," she said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or at 882-2111 ext. 351.
If you go
WHAT: Storey County Planning Commission meeting
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday, residents will have to sign up in advance to ask questions or give opinions.
WHERE: Virginia City Highlands Fire Station Community Room, Lousetown and Cartwright roads, Virginia City Highlands.
On the Net
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