Judge’s ruling paves way for up to 3,000 Reno homes
RENO – Developers can apply for permits to build as many as 3,000 homes in Reno after a judge rejected an appeal by Washoe County over a Regional Planning Commission decision.
In upholding the commission’s decision, District Judge James Hardesty ruled that building standards for the Verdi area conformed with the regional plan and a court settlement.
The county had appealed the decision on grounds that the commission failed to adequately consider the impacts such development would have on traffic and residential wells.
But Hardesty ruled that water and traffic were considered to an extent that conforms with the settlement agreement for the Verdi area about eight miles west of downtown Reno.
At issue are residential and commercial development plans for 2,724 acres around Verdi that Reno annexed in 2002. The annexation prompted a lawsuit by the county and ended in a court settlement.
Lawyer Steve Mollath, who represents property owners, said the ruling is a relief because owners have been waiting for two years to develop their land. Hardesty’s ruling can’t be appealed to a higher court.
Because development standards are now finalized, Mollath said, owners will begin applying for building permits within the next year from Reno.
“We have to be consistent with the terms of the handbook, and by virtue of the judge recognizing that the county’s appeal was absolutely frivolous, we can move forward and submit those maps,” Mollath told a Reno newspaper.
The handbook contains the density regulations and guidelines that will govern development of the area around Verdi.
County officials contend the regional commission failed to consider the impact on current Verdi residents if the new developments pump more ground water during a drought.
County commissioners thought the impact should have been studied before the development standards were finished, Assistant District Attorney Madelyn Shipman said.
“We sort of thought that they’d have to show and prove that any densities requested … would not impact the existing residential area, under the agreement language.
“And I guess what they’re saying is that they’re dealing with those issues of impact later, not when approving the densities,” Shipman said.
Verdi residents also expressed concern about traffic the 3,000 new homes would generate along Interstate 80 and around the Verdi area.
Developers have only committed to improving the interstate’s Garson Road interchange and roads within their projects.