Nevada

County Approves Massive Housing Developments

 

After listening to residents who expressed strong opposition to the planned development near Casey Road and Birch Lane, Churchill County Commissioners voted unanimously on January 18 to approve the project, which will consist of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

After almost three hours of comment and discussion, the committee members unanimously approved a preliminary map of the 31-acre division of Coleman Road.

The 3-0 vote on the Birch Lane development comes nearly nine months after commissioners passed a new code structure on 22 April to streamline existing residential areas and a third code for construction-intensive multifamily housing developments. At this meeting, residents living near the proposed development told the commissioners that they were concerned about the change in their rural lifestyle.

The current development includes the construction of 619 single-family homes and apartment buildings on 107.2 acres north and south of Birch Lane. According to the county, the number of residences includes a provision for a developer to build a county park.

During the public comment, the county’s residents tried to reason with the committee members at the beginning of the discussion, but closer to the vote, the committee members said they were going to approve the project.

Public Works Director Chris Spross set out two agenda items. He said the development process for Old Stone began in 2021 with an application for townhouses, apartments and houses. He said a housing needs assessment conducted in 2019 and 2021 revealed a lack of multi-family affordable housing in the county. He said up to 2,300 housing units could be needed over the next five years, including 550 homes for Navy families.

According to the Navy, several hundred housing units are missing at the Naval Air Station, and about 13-15% of sailors live in another county. Contract employees do not receive housing assistance from the US government.

According to the information presented at the meeting, the breakdown by housing is 101 one-family houses, 108 annexes or townhouses and 408 apartments. The homeowners will belong to the Homeowners Association (HOA) and the monthly fee will help maintain the streets and the planned park. Two-story apartment buildings will be located to the east of the houses.

Developer Michael Reilly said the trails and paths will be owned and operated by the HOA, but the general public will be able to use them. Development will take place in stages. Reilly said traffic studies were conducted by Churchill County and the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Residents then spoke about building. Not a single speaker expressed support for the development because of the proposed apartments. Jackie Ugalde, who lives on Lattin Road, said the project is being held back by her property and noted that there will be a fence between her property and the extension.

“Too many people, too many buildings in one area,” she said, questioning the project. “I’m not against growth, but over-construction in the area.”

Ugalde said the developer could reduce the number of buildings per acre. She also wondered why new homes when Fallon isn’t growing with the business.

In contrast, hundreds of Churchill County residents commute to work in Fearnley and the industrial heartland of Tahoe Reno. The Lahontan Valley News published in April 2022, Churchill Enterprise Development Association statistics show that about 43% of employed Churchill County residents commute outside the area to work.

As of November 2022, Churchill County has an unemployment rate of 4%. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation shows 10,998 workers in the labor force: 10,558 employed and 440 unemployed.

Another resident, Eddie Delgado, said he was worried about noise and water.

“I feel like now is not the time to do something like that,” he said.

Brent Huntsinger said it was difficult to fight the growth, but he questioned the proposed growth in the area.

“Townhouses are not so bad,” he said, adding that apartments could be built near the airfield.

Huntsinger said he was concerned about traffic at the Shecker Cut-off-Allen Road intersection.

“I don’t want height to be part of the problem,” he said.

Similarly, Ann Brown, a Dallas Drive resident, said traffic will increase in every direction. Another resident said that the increase in traffic would lead to traffic jams.

Jim Souba, who testified at the April meeting, does not like this plan.

“It all stinks,” he said. The public is against.

Souba asked the committee members if they would allow such a project near their homes. Mike Kubiak, the base contractor for 25 years, questioned the scale of the build.

“It’s an attempt to put 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag,” he said to audience applause.

Other speakers commented on water shortages, a possible increase in crime, or the annexation of the city.

Reilly tried to dispel the fears. He said that the traffic study actually showed a decrease in the number of vehicles, but his information was met with laughter. He said lot sizes for the homes would range from a third to a half acre, and assured the apartments would be located inside the development. Reilly added that the maximum height of apartment buildings will be 35 feet.

Commissioner Justin Heath, a Fallon native who served in the Marines and later in the Navy as an officer, said the area lacked housing for veterans. He also said that young people and high school graduates are leaving Fallon due to a lack of affordable housing.

A handful of people at the back of the chambers were yelling at Heath, telling him that he lived next door to a development. Heath said he was going to vote for development. The ghetto followed him, saying that he would also vote for him. Commission Chairman Bas Scharmann added a third vote.

Commissioner Miles Ghetto said his friends wanted to stay in Fallon but couldn’t. In response to the man who chuckled that any residential or apartment building should be placed in Hazen, the Ghetto retorted.

“I’m not in favor of putting it in Hazen,” he said.

The ghetto said residences should be able to live closer to the city.

The commissioners also canceled two agenda items rejected by Churchill Coty’s planning board in December. Both actions involved property on Coleman Road west of Venturacci Lane. The site has been in state ownership for more than five years. The county bought this property because it is in the best location to cross the Carson River and serves as a new north-south transportation corridor extending south of Moody Lane.

Churchill County, on behalf of the community, would also like builders to build an apartment complex. One proposal concerns an application for a multi-unit residential development called Riverstone Apartments, which will be built on approximately 32 acres.

As with the opening discussion on development, County resident Michael Reese questioned the need for high-end apartments on the ground. He worries that population growth will lead to road congestion.

“Coleman Road is a dangerous road,” he stressed.

Brett Cashill told the commissioners that CAPS had “enough space” in regards to the Churchill Humane Society facility about half a mile south of the NAS Fallon main gate on Pasture Road.

Another speaker, James Sterling, questioned the need for 440 apartments, calling the project “not a good idea.” Other speakers said traffic on Coleman Road would increase. Justin Ybarra said it makes no sense to jam so many people in a confined space.

After the last speaker commented, Heath called for the Planning Commission’s recommendation to be rescinded. Ghetto and Sharmann followed Heath’s example.

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