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Residents call for appeal of Mortensen Ranch court ruling

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A number of Reno residents are working to mobilize their neighbors to oppose the proposed Mortensen Ranch development planned for west of Somersett in the Verdi area. 

“There are hundreds of residents who object [to the development]” they wrote in an email sent to “concerned neighbors.”

The group, which includes at least one member of the Ward 5 Neighborhood Advisory Board, is urging Reno City Council members to appeal a recent decision by Second District Court Judge Kathleen Drakulich to the state Supreme Court in an effort to reinstate the council’s denial of the project.

“We have received over 100 notes of Public Comment requesting the City Council to appeal the District Court’s decision on the Stan Lucas Mortensen Ranch project… Please consider sending in your note of support,” the residents wrote in the email.

Although an agenda has yet to be released, the residents suggested the Mortensen Ranch decision may be on the council’s Jan. 26 agenda.

Reno City Council and the Reno Planning Commission have repeatedly denied approval for the Mortensen Ranch development, which would bring more than 650 homes to the area. Council member Neoma Jardon, whose ward includes the area where the development is proposed, said the developers had willfully misled Somersett residents about their plans.

The developers, Stan Lucas and Fred Altmann, sued the city in 2020 after the project was denied. The court ordered the developers and the city to work toward a settlement. 

In July 2020, the city declined the developers’ concessions and the lawsuit proceeded. In December 2021, Judge Drakulich ruled that the city council’s denial of the project “was without substantial evidentiary support, and consequently an abuse of discretion.”

Council and community members expressed concerns over increased traffic, fire danger and a lack of fire resources in the area, and development and cutting of hillsides when considering the development’s impacts.

After the district court’s ruling, City Manager Doug Thornley said there were a number of reasons for the city to appeal the judge’s decision. 

Residents in the area are seizing on that chance, suggesting public comment “can be as simple as, ‘Please appeal the Stan Lucas vs. City of Reno case to the Nevada Supreme Court.’”

In advocating for continued legal action, the group said there’s a chance for a “precedent-setting decision” or “a possible settlement with the developer.”

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.

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