Winds whip up Riverwood dust |

Winds whip up Riverwood dust

Scott Neuffer and Kurt Hildebrand
Nevada Appeal News Service

The recession has created a literal dust bowl on the Douglas County-Carson City line, according to neighbors of the idle Riverwood shopping center.

“It’s a health hazard and an eyesore,” Lyla Lane resident Jerry Vaccaro said recently.

He was referring to the large blank pad of dirt that passersby can see on the east side of Highway 395, opposite Carson Valley Plaza. The site was cleared in 2008 for a commercial center but has not been worked on since.

Vaccaro, whose house sits just east of the property, said strong winds create a dirt storm in his neighborhood.

“This is a terrible disaster for the county to allow that to exist,” he said. “It’s elevated higher than my home and the wind is picking up the dirt and depositing it on my front door and my driveway. It’s affecting my lungs, my children’s lungs. My wife is suffering from respiratory problems that she didn’t have before. All these problems are a result of the grading permit being issued. It is causing us nothing but health problems.”

Vaccaro said he’s complained to Douglas County and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection.

Last year, he said, a polymer was spread on the site to keep the dust down; but when the polymer broke up, it became mingled with the dust, which rose again.

“It blew the environmental fence down on the east side of the property,” Vaccaro said of a wind storm last week. “Just imagine how much dirt it blew.”

Vinson Guthreau, public information officer for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, said the agency is monitoring the site and issuing violations when necessary.

“We issued one violation on the property back in June of last year,” he said. “They paid their violation which led them to some of the other mitigating steps.”

Guthreau said the solvent used to hold the dust, which Vaccaro expressed concerns about, is non-toxic and approved by the EPA.

“You put a thin film over the dirt which prevents it from getting out of control,” he said. “The dust control they’re using, although not perfect, probably works better than water.”

Douglas County Senior Code Enforcement Officer Kirk Streeter said the county is requiring the owners of the vacant lot to take immediate steps to mitigate the dust problem, including the use of the aforementioned solvent, known as a


“Usually, that’s only good for 2-3 months,” Streeter said. “We’re also requiring they submit a long-term plan, whether hydroseeding or whatever, so the problem doesn’t keep occurring.”

In 2006, Douglas County commissioners approved a $24.7 million redevelopment deal with Riverwood partners. Designed to subsidize infrastructure costs and attract more businesses to the area, the agreement stipulates that developers must build 30,000 square feet of commercial space before receiving the first payment in a 16-year schedule. Approximately 25,000 square feet of that must be leased to receive subsequent payments.

The only requirement for continued participation in the agreement was that the developer begin work by the end of 2009. Grading improvements on about 25 acres of the east-dipping site began in the fall of 2008 but ceased shortly thereafter.

Last year, county commissioners were told that the developer was under no obligation to inform them of the project’s progress under the agreement. Lousy economic conditions and continued lack of infrastructure have hindered not only the commercial center but also the 270,000-square-foot Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino proposed for the eastern edge of the property.

Developed by “Beverly Hillbillies” star Max Baer Jr., the casino has seen several legal challenges including an attempt earlier in the year by Riverwood partners to foreclose on a portion of the site.

A public auction for about 16 acres of the casino land was postponed until July 14, pending legal action.


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