Decision on Cordevista development postponed again

Blake Smith will have to wait a bit longer to find out if his request for a master plan amendment and zone change is approved.

Smith, managing partner of Virginia Highlands LLC., presented his case for the second time before the Storey County Planning Commission on Thursday.

Smith, developer of the Somersett subdivision west of Reno, wants to build Cordevista - 8,600 to 15,000 houses along with commercial and office complexes on 11,000 acres he bought three years ago in the center of the county.

The property zoned special industrial, was formerly owned by TRW Inc., and used to manufacture the explosive devices that inflate air bags. Smith is looking to change the zoning to mixed-use to make way for Cordevista, a planned unit development.

At the commission's April 13 meeting in the Virginia City Highlands, a vote was postponed so that Lockwood residents, who are 3.9 miles from the proposed subdivision, could give public comment.

At the Virginia City Highlands meeting, all of the residents who spoke were opposed to the plan, but Thursday Lockwood residents showed they are largely in favor.

"I think it will benefit all of us," said Louise Pena, of Lockwood. "It will increase the value of our homes."

She said she fought against having her children attend Virginia City schools even though she thinks the small classes are preferable because she didn't want them to endure the long bus ride, which, she said, was about 45 minutes to an hour each way.

She also said Lockwood needs the flood control Smith has promised.

"Anything to keep that water from coming down Long Valley Creek," she said.

Smith has promised to install water retention facilities in Cordevista that would keep Long Valley Creek from flooding.

However, Planning Commissioner Larry Prater said only 18 percent of the water that flows down the creek comes from the Cordevista property, prompting Smith to pledge to pay for facilities farther downstream.

There were many Virginia City Highlands and Virginia City residents also on hand for the meeting, most of whom again spoke against the development.

Highlands resident Ray McPartlin told the crowd Smith's promise to end flooding in Lockwood was hollow, since only 18 percent of the water going down Long Valley Creek crossed Cordevista property.

"You're being sold a bill of goods here," he said. "We're being fed statistics that are baloney."

He also warned that if Cordevista were built, there would be more children there than in Virginia City, making it possible that Virginia City schools would close and those students bused to the north end of the county.

Smith has said that the Storey County master plan provided for new growth and needs a balance between jobs and housing. He said the Cordevista development is intended for workers at Tahoe Reno Industrial Park.

He also offered to build water infrastructure in such a way that if the Virginia City Highlands were in need, it could tap into the Cordevista system. He declined to say where the water was coming from due to ongoing negotiations for water rights, but said he would not use any groundwater.

Smith also proposed a Storey County Community Foundation paid for by Cordevista residents via a $250 transfer fee that will pay for infrastructure improvements to the Highlands, flood control in Lockwood and aid preservation of nearby petroglyphs and wild-horse habitat. It would also be available for grants to the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority, the Fourth Ward School and Piper's Opera House.

If you go

WHAT: Storey County Planning Commission meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 17

WHERE: Mark Twain Fire Station, 500 Sam Clemens Road, Mark Twain Estates

CALL: (775) 847-0966

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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