To grow, or not to grow
Appeal Staff Writer
It is a time-honored dispute that is becoming more and more common in the West, particularly in Lyon County. Does a rural community that is becoming desirable to development alter its laws to allow growth, or fight the oncoming hordes with everything it’s got?
Silver Springs, once a sleepy community of one-acre, five-acre and 20-acre parcels scattered around a crossroads, is facing that choice.
George Peek, a large landholder in Silver Springs, and president of the local water company, has put forth a request to alter the master plan and rezone a 250-acre parcel he owns between Topaz and Onyx streets.
His proposal has been rejected by the Silver Springs Regional Advisory Council and the Lyon County Planning Commission. On Feb. 2 the Lyon County Board of Commissioners will consider the development.
The proposal is for Villages of Silver Springs, a 697-lot planned unit development that calls for lots starting 5,000 square feet. The area is now zoned for five-acre lots.
Regardless of what becomes of that project, the pressure on Silver Springs to grow will continue, according to Steve Hasson, Lyon County planning director.
“Silver Springs has just got too many things going for it in terms of growth opportunity to be dissuaded,” he said, mentioning highways 95A and 50, the planned highway to connect Highway 50 and Interstate 80, as well as an airport and Lake Lahontan.
Ray Johnson, a planning commissioner and the only member of that panel to support Villages, said growth is needed for the survival of the community.
“Silver Springs is an almost brand-new community, started in 1950,” he said. “We are trying desperately to bring in industry. What happens is your children grow up and they leave because there’s nothing to come back to. That happens everywhere, but it’s very evident here.”
But Rick Zierenberg, a Silver Springs resident and the county’s code enforcement officer, wants to stick to the master plan, which restricts residential development to one- to 20-acre parcels.
“I moved here so that when my neighbor sneezed, I didn’t have to say ‘God bless you,'” he said. “I bought my five acres and built my house in the middle of it.”
Zierenberg said he worried that Silver Springs would become another Dayton. “I’ve lived my entire life in tract housing and I hate to see it,” he said.
He said Silver Springs could not handle the high-density development without damaging its way of life – not to mention resources.
“I think we’re going to run short of water,” he said. “I think we’re going to be straining our emergency services to the limit. I think we’re going to end up having major traffic issues on 50.”
Johnson said that Silver Springs now has the infrastructure to handle a large development, such as improved water and sewer systems, natural gas, power and underground telephone lines.
He added that people who want to keep out development are not being realistic. “You grow or you die,” he said.
Kay Bennett, president of the Silver Springs Chamber of Commerce and co-manager of the Silver Springs Airport, wants to see more development.
“We cannot generate commercial development without rooftops. We can’t improve the public service infrastructure without some development,” she said.
Bennett said she supported keeping some of Silver Springs zoned for five-acre and 20-acre lots, but not near the “four corners” area where highways 50 and 95A intersect – which she said was ideal for supermarkets and other retail businesses.
Zierenberg admitted that some people would like to see a supermarket, but believed that many more Silver Springs residents wanted to keep the area rural. He still wanted to stick to the master plan.
“I kind of like it the way it is,” he said. “I don’t mind driving 20 miles into Fernley or 25 miles to Smith’s in Dayton.”
Pat Geurtz, chairman of the Silver Springs Regional Advisory Council, also thinks the majority want to limit growth.
“If you look at it, it’s the people who are going to have their pinkies in the pie, they’re the ones that are for it,” he said. “The people who just live here don’t want it. It’s the same old story, the silent majority.”
— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.
WHAT: Silver Springs property owner George Peek wants to rezone a 250-acre parcel between Topaz and Onyx streets for a 697-lot planned unit development that calls for lots starting 5,000 square feet. The area is now zoned for five-acre lots.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Lyon County Board of Commissioners will consider the development Feb. 2.
HISTORY: The proposal has been rejected by the Silver Springs Regional Advisory Council and the Lyon County Planning Commission.