A big and controversial residential development near Verdi won the approval of the Reno City Council on Thursday.
The project known as Meridian 120 will bring 621 homes — some of them in clusters and tri-plexes, others on large-sized lots — to about 400 acres south of Interstate 80 at Boomtown.
Residential development in the area has been discussed for the better part of 20 years, and the current proposal from Reno Land Inc. drew vigorous opposition from neighbors in the Verdi area. Seventy-nine people wrote letters of opposition to the Council.
They don’t like the loss of open space at the edge of the Sierra Foothills, they think traffic will be a mess and they worry about the dangers of building more houses near fire-prone wildlands.
In a series of complicated votes, the City Council voted 5-2 to allow Meridian 120 to move forward. Council members Jenny Brekhus and Naomi Duerr cast negative votes, citing concerns about traffic, fire danger and density of parts of the development.
Arlo Stockham, the city’s community development director, said the future of the Meridian 120 area is very important to the city. It’s one of the last major parcels available for development on the western edge of the city, and the property will become the gateway to the Reno area for travelers along I-80.
Even though they’ve been opposed to the development, neighbors have been talking with representatives of Reno Land about ways to make the project more palatable. Councilwoman Neoma Jardon played a key role in bringing the two sides together.
As a result of the talks, Reno Land agreed to continue working with a neighborhood group while final plans are nailed down.
More visibly, the company gave up more than eight acres of land that was available for industrial and commercial development. Instead, the land will become open space. The company agreed to dedicate another 17 acres for a wildlife corridor.
Reno Land will provide land for new fire station — a step that already was required by development rules in the area — and collect more than $1,600 from each new housing unit to help build the firehouse.
Wood Rodgers, the engineering firm that’s advising Reno Land on the project, undertook a study of traffic in the area and found that the addition of a roundabout will keep traffic flowing smoothly onto eastbound I-80.
Truckee Meadows Water Authority has agreed to deliver water to the new neighborhoods.