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Daybreak Development Goes Back to City Council (Subscriber Content)

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on
Daybreak development location. Google Earth image.
Daybreak development location. Google Earth image.

The City of Reno and attorneys for the investment firm behind the South Reno Daybreak development have reached an agreement for the project to appear before council again this month.

Newport Pacific Land Company sued the city in February after the Reno City Council denied the development in November of 2018. 

The development proposes 4,700 residential units in what project critics are calling the “last available space to store floodwaters and for natural percolation into the soil in the Steamboat Creek watershed.” 

Last week, however, it was announced that the developers and the Reno City Attorney’s Office “have reached a mutual understanding regarding modification and remand of the Project Applications to City Council for possible approval on or before September 23, 2019.” (Read the agreement below.)

Background

Daybreak’s developers previously said that denial of their project by the City Council was arbitrary. 

Attorney Michael Burke, on behalf of the California-based company, wrote:

“According to the City Council, Daybreak’s applications were denied because the City’s current master plan, Reimagine Reno, prohibits development in a floodplain. There are several problems with this position.

“First, Reimagine Reno does not apply to Daybreak’s applications, because Daybreak’s applications were submitted under Reno’s prior master plan which does not contain any such language.

“Second, denying the applications will not prohibit development in a floodplain, as existing entitlements already allow future development within the floodplain, only without the mitigation proposed by Daybreak. 

“Third, portions of the of the Bella Vista and Butler Ranches have already been developed, notwithstanding the factor that these properties are also in the floodplain. And fourth, the City has never applied this interpretation to any other development in the City.”

As a result of the lawsuit, the City Council is now forced to consider the development later this month. It will be a vote to approve the development–or not. Councilmembers cannot place more requirements on the project, according to the court document.

“In the event City Council approves the Project Applications and Ancillary Agreements, the City shall submit the Master Plan amendment and project of regional significance determination to the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission and Truckee Meadows Regional Governing Board…for a determination that the Project confirms to the Regional Plan,” the agreement noted.

Should council again deny the project, which has been modified as part of the new agreement, the lawsuit will proceed with a court hearing September 27, 2019. 

What’s Changed?

Few seem to know what exactly occurred that led to the agreement between the city attorney and Daybreak’s developers.

“I have no idea,” said Coucilmember Naomi Duerr, who opposed the project last year. “I do know what we’ll be finding out in an upcoming staff report before the meeting.”

Steve Wolgast, writing at Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning, said the agreement raises questions about the role of the council in considering developments.

“Does Reno control development at all?” he asked. “Daybreak is not compliant with the master plan or existing zoning. What entitles them to a special exception for the benefit of their investors?

“This has been a long and tortured process for this massive development.”

Residents oppose the project.

“I am absolutely concerned about this project,” Michelle Bay wrote to the city. “The land proposed for this project is in fact wetlands and will only lead to flooding issues like Lemmon Valley. And the increased traffic is already a concern for Rio Poco (Road) with the addition of the Southeast Connector.”

Brian Bonnenfant, of the University of Nevada’s Center for Regional Studies, said earlier this year, though, that the project meets the region’s identified housing needs.

“I’m sure they had met with (city) staff and thought they had it all in place,” he said. “It’s mostly just a flood issue. I think (the City Council) is using that as a spearpoint to tackle those issues.”


This story may be updated. Burke, a representative for the project, and the city’s communications staff were contacted for additional information.

Read the Stipulation

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