Highlands residents voice opposition to new development

While residents of the Lockwood community in Storey County were receptive to the idea of an 8,000-home development, residents of the Virginia City Highlands were not.

Blake Smith, managing partner of Somersett Development Company, held a town meeting with tours of the proposed development property and a similar project for Highlands residents on Saturday, but didn't appear to have changed any minds.

When a resident asked how many at the meeting approved the development, only four out of about 140 people raised their hands.

Smith is proposing a master-planned community with office and retail development along with more than 8,000 homes on the former TRW property in central Storey County. He is seeking a master plan amendment and zoning change, which he said he will take to the Storey County Planning Commission in April or May.

He held a similar meeting and tour for Lockwood residents on Feb. 24.

The proposed development, called Cordevista, is located north and east of the Virginia City Highlands and is bordered on three sides by the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park. Smith developed the master-planned community of Somersett, west of Reno at Mogul, and took some 30 Highlands residents on a tour of that property as well as the TRW lot, to show what he envisioned for Cordevista.

Highlands residents expressed concerns about water, roads, wild horses and the possibility of eventual Cordevista residents on ATVs and dirt bikes riding through their rural area.

Smith said by the end of this year the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park will employ about 8,000 people, who have no commercial or residential options near their work.

The 8,600-acre property that was purchased in 2005 is 5.2 miles from the industrial park, 4.3 miles from the Virginia City Highlands fire station, 3.9 miles from Lockwood, 9 miles from Virginia City and 13.5 miles from Reno.

Smith said the main road out of the development would connect to USA Parkway to the east, with alternate routes being the Mustang area to the north to connect to Interstate 80 and a westerly route.

Although Smith said at the Highlands' meeting that he didn't know where the western road would go, at the meeting on Feb. 24 in Lockwood, he said it would come out at Damonte Ranch or Double Diamond in south Reno.

The land to the west of the development to the Washoe County line is level enough for development and is owned by another developer he wouldn't name, other than calling him "Mr. Z."

Smith has denied any desire to connect with Lousetown or Long Valley roads, even though Long Valley Road goes directly to the property and the proposed westerly road would cross Lousetown Road, a county road.

Smith said he would have to bring water in, as there isn't enough water in the ground at Cordevista to support a development.

"There's more water in the Truckee River than Northern Nevada can use," Smith said. "It has been cut up by legal documents, that is to say, water rights, over the years."

Smith said he is looking into four importation projects from multiple sources, but declined to identify them, adding that the Virginia City Highlands, if built out, would not have enough water either.

Cathylee James of the Let 'Em Run Foundation called Storey County home to the largest wild horse herds in Nevada and reminded Smith that Nevada was a fence-out state.

Smith said he would provide corridors throughout the development that wild horses could pass through, but has said he would not fence the perimeter of his development.

Highlands resident Bob Stransky remained adamantly opposed.

"I moved here from Dayton when development closed in on me there," he said. "The same thing is happening here."


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