Martin J. Fischer: Vintage reflections
December 29, 2016
As has been reported, the Vintage at Kings Canyon project was approved by a 3-1 vote at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 1. It was apparent from the onset this project would eventually be approved. The majority of our city leaders didn't hesitate to accommodate the developer by approving a change in the master plan land use designation, a zoning map amendment on a portion of the property from single family to neighborhood business and a special use permit for congregate care housing.
The sale of approximately 80 acres of the Andersen Ranch property was never an open space issue, but simply the desire of the Andersen family to see this land developed. The supervisors were fully aware of the Vintage proposed project for many months, which should have given them ample time to study and evaluate the nature of this proposal and, most importantly, the nature of the area.
I should like to contrast the existing area to the Vintage project. Presently, the neighborhoods comprising the city's west side have a quality mix of custom one-and-two-story homes of differing sizes, appearances and landscaping. Homes are on appropriate lot sizes and residents are of diversified ages. Vintage, in contrast, is essentially a senior development comprised of 212 single family one-story homes, some of which will be built with zero lot lines. There will also be a 96-unit congregate care facility for assisted/independent living, businesses for Vintage residents, a clubhouse, pool, park, trail system, fences and gates.
After the sale of the Andersen Ranch property and plans for the Vintage development were publicized, residents of our community never had an opportunity to gain any insight with respect to the views of city officials, who are responsible for approving this project. Conversely, city officials were well aware residents raised legitimate concerns and objections over many months.
I realize the Nevada Open Meeting law limits the ability of the board to have discourse with members of the community at their meetings, however, I feel little sensitivity was shown to residents who wished to express their concerns. There were letters written and presentations made with no response or feedback. To ask residents, who would be negatively impacted by this project, to sit through four-to-six-hour meetings, only then to be allowed three minutes to speak, is unfair and illogical. The immediate vote taken after residents spoke only reinforced opinions decisions had been made well before supervisors read letters and listened to presentations. Clearly, board members weren't interested in taking time to review pertinent points made by residents who chose to speak.
The approved Vintage gated community development consisting of high density new homes and units for seniors with varying assisted care needs is incongruous with the residential landscape of the west side of the city.
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Had the majority of the board properly studied and evaluated this project and its suitability to the area, I believe they would have concluded aesthetically and practically it wasn't a proper fit.
Despite knowing an overwhelming number of residents opposed this project, three of the four supervisors voted for approval. They disregarded objections raised by residents, who weren't advocating this land remain undeveloped, but that further thought be given to the approval of a development that was in stark contrast to the existing neighborhoods and would diminish the overall integrity of the area. I believe the majority of supervisors failed in their responsibility to the residents.
Martin J. Fischer is retired vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue. Also, he taught business management at UCLA.