Abby Johnson: Residents being left out of Andersen Ranch proposal

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At noon on Thanksgiving, the Andersen Ranch pasture on the west side of Carson City rested under a blanket of fresh snow, except for tawny tufts of brittle autumn grasses, too tall to be hidden. Two coyotes and a pup headed across the field, ears cocked, listening for life beneath the snow — their next meal.

This is the setting for the latest proposal from the owners of the Andersen Ranch to fill their fields with houses. For now, the focus is only on the land between Mountain Street and Ormsby. That’s the same land that was targeted for the Vintage senior care center — and the controversial vineyards.

The new developer, Sparks-based Christy Corp., says that’s all in the past. They are hustling to get the Carson City Planning Commission OK on Dec. 17 and Board of Supervisors approval by the end of January.

The newest proposal is for 203 single-family homes of one and two stories, allowed within current zoning of the property. Christy Corp., is choosing to develop under the city’s “open space” option to build subdivision homes closer together and on smaller lots in order to create open space and public access. The current plan shows a path around the perimeter of the development. The alternative is lots that conform to existing zoning but do not include open space or a trail from the Mountain Street trailhead through the property. No age restrictions are proposed but a homeowners association is expected to be responsible for some upkeep, although the roads would be maintained by the city.

At an informal, overflow meeting on Nov. 22 initiated by residents, neighbors asked the developer’s representative a multitude of questions about vehicle access and traffic, flooding and flood plain, and the compatibility of the proposed development with the surrounding neighborhood. The application asserts that most development residents will come and go onto Mountain and Ormsby. But with all the north-south streets punched through, it is unclear whether that assumption is valid. If it is, that brings a lot of traffic onto Ormsby, dangerously close to the Ormsby-Ash Canyon blind curve. Additionally, while the traffic study recorded no pedestrians on Ormsby, as a neighbor I know that runners and walkers frequent that stretch of road.

It’s troubling that both the city and the developer were comfortable with seeking Planning Commission approval without a meeting with area residents, who’ve been vocal since the Vintage was proposed and whose Save Open Space group has remained vigilant and involved. Now the developer has organized an evening meeting for Thursday at the Nugget. It’s an opportunity for the public to meet the development team, learn more about the project and consider the project’s compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods, prior to the Planning Commission meeting.

Time and again in Carson City, it feels as though the city and developer are working together and leaving those directly affected out of the loop. A Planning Commission meeting scheduled during the busy and demanding holiday season has the appearance of trying to circumvent meaningful public scrutiny. Public agencies often use the “holiday surprise” strategy to push proposals through while the public is distracted. Hopefully the developer’s meeting Thursday will provide information and answers. Let’s make sure this project is fully vetted with all questions answered and commitments clear before the Planning Commission considers it.

To recap: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Carson Nugget: Meeting with Christy Corp., representatives on the Andersen Ranch Estates proposal. Dec. 17, Planning Commission meeting, time TBA; check the city’s website for agenda and more information. Happy holidays.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.


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