Rural dream clashes with business bottom line |

Rural dream clashes with business bottom line

Becky Bosshart
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Tom Willhoit, who lives on Rancho Avenue with his three horses, said industrial development belongs in the Dayton business park, or Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, not in the Stagecoach area where the quality of life for residents might be disturbed.

Two hawks circled above the desert, which is crowded with rocks and winter-worn sagebrush. One gravel road stretches through the hills above Iron Mountain Estates, the proposed location of a new industrial park.

Inside Ladonna Gilbert’s house on Seneca Road, 31 neighbors fumed about the proposed development and what they can do to stop it.

Dennis Smith, a representative of the developer, said the 1,200-acre high-tech industrial park, which reaches into both Storey and Lyon counties, is a 10-year plan. He said Gold Canyon Development of Carson City wants to work with residents to make the park fit into the community.

So begins the classic clash of rural residents who yearn for open space with the developer who wants production and profit.

Tom Willhoit, 62, has lived on Rancho Avenue for four years, and he doesn’t want to leave. He wore a beaver skin hat and the usual cowboy attire. Willhoit said if this development is approved, it’ll set the precedent for more industry in an area the residents decided should be used only for retail and residential development.

“We have a quality of life we want to keep,” he said. “Pretty soon, that’ll bring high-density houses, and that will bring a lot of problems. We want to keep it rural.”

According to the Lyon County Manager’s Report, the proposal calls for the change in land use and zoning designations on the 550 acres in the Stagecoach area. The item was continued to a future planning commission meeting so the developer can “communicate with the surrounding community and explore infrastructure needs.”

They can build somewhere else, said Tom Redican. He moved from Carson City into their dream home on a 20-acre parcel with his wife, Peggy, and their two children.

“We’re frustrated,” he said. “Everyone moves here to get away from the traffic, to ride motorcycles and horses. And now we got this big industry trying to screw it all up.”

Peggy is worried that the development will scare away the wildlife that lives around their home.

“And we have wild horses,” said 6-year-old Thomas.

Peggy is concerned about big-rig traffic near where children play. Other residents worry about industrial chemicals leaking into the aquifer.

Dennis Smith, who is a principal with Western Engineering & Surveying, said the Storey County Commission has already signed off on rezoning the land on its side of the border as light industrial.

“So now we’re trying to get the same zoning in Lyon County,” he said. “There is some concern with residents on Iron Mountain Drive that they don’t want to see Iron Mountain Drive as a main thoroughfare for an industrial park.”

Smith said the company will submit more information to the Lyon County Planning Department in the first or second week of January. He said the owner has ideas to make the project more palatable. Smith said they could build a community sewer system for the park, put larger lots around the edge, and tap into Highway 50 through Dayton rather than using Iron Mountain Boulevard as the primary access..

Gilbert, a skin-care specialist in Carson City, stood outside her yellow home and looked toward the land where the high-tech park could be built. Five herds of mustangs graze across this area, she said.

“This is not just about safety and money. It’s about the peace, the view, the animals,” Gilbert said.

The Gilberts have invested about $230,000 into their home, “and they want to take it. It’s wrong.”

The Stagecoach Advisory Board meets Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Stagecoach Community Center to discuss the project.

Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

How to include the community in your

business plans

• Start with consensus building. Meet with the local community and tell them what you’re considering. To preserve peace make sure local community is with you.

• Communicate immediately with local government to make sure there is water access and sewer. Determine the zoning for your parcel and if it fits with your plans. Counties have different procedures on zone or use changes.

• Business and industry should work with a local development authority to make sure things are done to clear the way. This creates a coordinated effort.

Source: Ron Weisinger,

executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority