Fresh Ideas: Who will stand up for Carson City’s open space?
How green is our valley? The Vintage development, proposed to be built on farmland open space on Carson’s west side, is testing limits with Carson City’s staff, elected and appointed officials, and residents this month at public hearings. The question is: Who will stand up for open space?
The posh development proposed for the Andersen Ranch targets Californians who want to retire to an active lifestyle — until they wear out and need assisted living, also provided. And wine is involved. Vineyards are depicted on the development website (thevintagenevada.com), evoking the easy climate of Sonoma rather than the challenging short growing season of Northern Nevada.
Here’s a taste of what they’re pouring. “We have chosen this particular piece of lush farmland nestled at the bottom of Kings Canyon to cultivate an organic farm to table, 55 plus active adult progressive community in the heart of Carson City, Nevada. The Vintage gives the refined year’s (sic) new meaning to community through a safe, healthy, sustainable environment of natural living where everything is aged to perfection. A healthier more active lifestyle. A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. It’s a time in life to enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
Farm to table, vineyards, even aging progressives! It’s a natural fit for the Eagle Valley, right?
When I stopped by the city community development office in March to diligently understand why the fields behind my house were being surveyed, staff said they’d received nothing except some preliminary plans for the area near Mountain Street. Less than a month later, the developer held a meeting at Fritsch Elementary School to answer questions about the development, suddenly fully formed and planned, encompassing the entire ranch property.
The outcry from the public, especially from adjacent neighborhoods, encouraged the city to scrutinize the development plans. Now, at meetings of the Parks and Recreation Commission (last night) and Planning Commission (Sept. 29), we learn what the developer proposes. The public will be able to comment on the record to decision makers.
In response to the Vintage, Save Open Space Carson City (SOSCarsonCity.org) has formed to protect our city’s “rapidly diminishing green spaces.” The nonprofit is asking hard questions about Vintage and is also monitoring the Lompa Ranch development. In addition, they inform residents and city officials about development proposals that exceed current zoning and master plan requirements and guidelines, and hold elected officials accountable to uphold plans and zoning ordinances. Will the Vintage development require zoning and master plan variances? Will our elected officials OK the changes?
Their latest online newsletter explains the health and economic benefits of green space, raises concerns about emergency services and flood control, and questions whether attracting more retirees is a good decision for Carson City’s future. Wouldn’t abundant green/open space recreational opportunities go a long way to attract and retain young professionals who wish to settle and raise a family in a unique, community oriented setting?
The Planning Commission is expected to meet Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Carson City Community Center to consider the Vintage project. Ultimately (before or after the election) the Board of Supervisors will approve or deny the project based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission.
The Vintage development is being considered during the fall campaign season when three seats (Mayor and two board members) are up for election. No doubt some candidates will try to avoid full disclosure about their position on the Vintage development. But voters deserve to understand where the candidates stand on Carson City’s future, including green space and the pace and need for replacing the remaining open space with development. And city officials must question whether the developer’s commitments are solid or poured from a special pre-approval Vintage.
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.