Welcome to Cordevistahoa.org


This web site is not owned or operated by the Cordevista Home Owners Association. (As far as I know there is no Cordevista Home Owners Association, yet.)

This web site is not owned or operated by Virginia Highlands LLC.

This web site is owned and operated by me, Jed Margolin.
 

Virginia Highlands LLC wants to build the Cordevista Master Planned Community right next to my community.

I live in the Virginia City Highlands, in Storey County, Nevada (here are some pictures of my neighborhood) and therein lies a tale.

When I have more time I will tell it.
 

Jed Margolin
Virginia City Highlands, Nevada
April 2, 2007


Mini Index

Click here to go to Blake Smith's White Binder

Click here for the Lance Gilman letter that was read at the Planning Commission meeting in Virginia City on July 19. (Lance Gilman is the Principal Partner of TRI)

Click here for the Cordevista Impact Staff Report prepared by the County departments

Click here for the County's record of the Cordevista application

Click here for Additional Documents

Click here for the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan amendment.

Click here for the transcript of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan Amendment

Click here - The Board of Commissioners accepts the Planning Commission's recommendations to deny Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan Amendment

Click here for the transcript of the historic meeting of the Storey County Board of Commissioners on August 21, 2007 where the Board voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to deny Blake Smith's application.

Click here - Blake Smith sues the County - Lawsuit filed September 11, 2007

Click here for the Cordevista Judicial Hearing Decision

Click here for How It Ended


Full Index

1.  Documents filed by Blake Smith to request that the Master Plan be changed and that the properties be rezoned. These documents were posted on the Storey County Website and then disappeared.
 

2.  Soil Contamination Letter
 

3.  Storey County Master Plan
 

4.  Previous Owners of the properties - Curtiss-Wright, Hi-Shear, Aerojet, TRW, Virginia Highlands LLC (Blake Smith), Storey County Properties Partnership LLC.
 

5.  Blake Smith's very fine glossy brochure
 

6.  Mark Amodei is also the attorney for Painted Rock
 

7.  Complaint filed against Commissioner Flanagan with the Nevada Commission on Ethics in February 2007
 

8.  How to get assessment and tax information on property in Storey County
 

9.  State of Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Division of Water Resources: Databases on water including the Water Rights Database
 

10.  S. B. 405, introduced by Nevada Senator Mark Amodei (Blake's attorney), would prohibit actions by local governments and state agencies that conflict with decisions of the State Engineer and would prohibit the State Engineer from using the presence or absence of zoning or planning designations as a determining factor in analyzing an application. (It's probably worse than that.)
 

11.  Transcript of the April 13, 2007 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Virginia City Highlands Firestation. (PDF and html)
 

12.  The Quest For Water #1
 

13.  Water Measurements and Units
 

14.  It is unlikely that Blake Smith will be getting water from Storey County Properties Partnership LLP
 

15.  Storey County Properties Partership LLP - Active Water Certificate and Permits
 

16.  Storey County Properties Partership LLP - All Water Permit Applications
 

17.  NEVADA DIVISION OF WATER RESOURCES WATER RIGHTS DATABASE - SPECIAL HYDROGRAPHIC ABSTRACT
 

18.  Transcript of the May 3, 2007 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Rainbow Bend Clubhouse (Lockwood)
 

19.   Reports from the Mark Twain meeting on May 17, 2007
 

20.  Have you seen the Sierra Alligator Lizard (and why it's important)?
 

21.  Blake Smith's partner is calling the project the Virginia Highlands.
 

22.  Blake's White Binder
 

23.  I have some comments on Blake's White Binder
 

24.  Transcript of the July 11, 2007 information meeting for Virginia City at Piper's Opera House.  (PDF and html)
 

25.  The County has its own record of the Cordevista application
 

26.  Additional Documents
 

27.  The minutes of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan amendment.
 

28.  The transcript of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan Amendment
 

29.  The Board of Commissioners accepts the Planning Commission's recommendations to deny Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan Amendment
 

30.   Here is the transcript of the historic meeting of the Storey County Board of Commissioners on August 21, 2007 where the Board voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to deny Blake Smith's application.
 

31.  Blake Smith sues the County - Lawsuit filed September 11, 2007


32. Cordevista Judicial Hearing Decision


33.  Epilogue - It's Over


April 16, 2007 (Monday)

I still don't have time to tell the story.

This is more important.

There was a meeting of the Planning Commission on Friday, April 13. Before going to the meeting I checked to see if the documents submitted by the Developer were still on the Planning Commission's home page. They weren't. The documents I checked with their direct URL were still on the server, but with no link on the homepage they were effectively lost to the world.

This is what the County says about it at http://www.storeycounty.org/News_Detail.asp?ID=52

During the April 13th Planning Commission meeting, we became aware of problems accessing public information posted on the County website. First, we want to again assure everyone that all information that has been previously posted remains on the website. However, space design limitations have made it more difficult to readily access some information.  The apparent cause of this problem is there are only a limited amout of postings that can appear on our homepage and newer postings "bump" the older ones off the homepage but not off the website. We will work with our web designer to make access to all information easier to navigate.
Fortunately, I have copies of the documents so I am posting them here. Note that the Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5010 and the Technical Drainage Study are "too voluminous" to have been posted. If someone will legibly scan them, I will post them here.
 

Table of Contents

  Tab 1 - Master Plan Amendment
  Tab 2 - Zoning Change
  Tab 3 - Drainage Study Findings
  Tab 4 - Wildlife Review and Evaluation
  Tab 5 - Wetland Delineation Report
  Tab 6 - Technical Drainage Study
  Tab 7 - Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5010
  Tab 8 - Archeological Site Catalogues and Photographs
  Tab 9 - Contact Info


At the meeting I received a copy of the Soil Contamination Report. It isn't a report. It's a letter that gives the Developer plausible deniability.    Letter

Here is a good article about the April 13 meeting by Karen Woodmansee in the Nevada Appeal.


At the center of this issue is the Storey County Master Plan. This is a fine, well written plan, so I am posting it here.

I especially like the history of the County on pages 3 and 4.

I would like to add something about our history.

One of the Comstock millionaires was John Mackay.

One of the things he did with his money, in addition to giving some of it to the School of Mines at the University of Nevada, was to help build a second Transatlantic Cable.   (Jay Gould had a monopoly on the first one.)

Jay Gould reminds me of someone, but I can't quite place him right now.
 

Here is the Planning Commission homepage
 




April 22, 2007 (Sunday)
 

The parcels listed in the Cordevista Master Plan Amendment and Zone Change requests are: 004-151-06, 004-201-05, and 004-211-06.

I went to the Assessor's Office and got copies of the Parcel Number information: Parcel 004-151-06, Parcel 004-201-05, and Parcel 004-211-06. (Click on the links to see them for yourself.)
 

This is what I think the useful information is.

Parcel 004-151-06  Size: 1,445 acres

Transferred from C-W NV to Hi-Shear                                      12/86

Transferred from to Hi-Shear to Aerojet                                     11/91              $4,600,000

Transferred from  Aerojet to TRW                                             5/97              $5,100,000  (two parcels)

Transferred from Northrop Grumman  to TRW Automotive          3/03

Transferred from TRW Automotive to Virginia Highlands LLC    11/15/04         $4,500,000 (two parcels)


My Comments:

1.  C-W is the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which was formed in 1929 by the merger of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and Wright Aeronautical. Curtiss-Wright has an interesting history, so I have written about it separately. Please click here.

2.  Two employees of Hi-Shear were convicted of illegal storage and disposal of hazardous waste under RCRA and making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001. It appears their convictions were overturned on appeal. Please click here for more.  Although the convictions were overturned, what did they dump on the property and where, exactly, did they dump it?

3.  TRW was bought by Northrop Grumman in 2002. The TRW Automotive group was sold off and is now owned by the Blackstone Group. The TRW credit reporting company is now called Experian. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRW)
 

Parcel 004-201-05  Size: 5,322 acres    Same Ownership history as Parcel 004-151-06
 

Parcel 004-211-06      Size: 1,822.91 acres

There are a number of ownership changes recorded without the owner's names until:
1-94          STOREY CO PROP TO STOREY CO PROP LTD LBLTY CO

2/12/07     $4,557,275      STOREY CO PROPERTIES LLC TO GATEWAY CO LC

The owner of Gateway Company LLC is the Fritz Duda Company in Dallas, Texas, owned by Fritz Duda.
 

I found some references to Storey County Properties.

1.   According to http://www.city-data.com/zips/89434.html Storey County Properties is the owner of

CEMEX SIERRA STONE QUARRY (3005 CANYON WY in SPARKS, NV)

CRITERIA AND HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANT INVENTORY (Inventory of air pollution sources)
Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, less than 100 kg/month of hazardous waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (tracking hazardous waste))

Business SIC classification: CONSTRUCTION SAND AND GRAVEL; HIGHWAY AND STREET CONSTRUCTION, EXCEPT ELEVATED HIGHWAYS

Business NAICS classification: CONSTRUCTION SAND AND GRAVEL MINING.

Organizations: RMC NEVADA INC (CONTACT/OPERATOR) , STOREY COUNTY PROPERTIES (CONTACT/OWNER)

Alternative names: RMC NEVADA INC, RMC NEVADA INC SIERRA STONE QUARRY, RMC NEVADA ASPHALT INC


2.   According to the Nevada Appeal, in 2004 Storey County Properties wanted to pipe water from the quarry to some place several miles away.

See http://www.nevadaappeal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040321/News/103210021/-1/NEWS

Where did they want to send the water and how did that turn out? Does anyone know?


3.  According Blake’s very fine glossy brochure, after describing Cordevista as being approximately 8,600 acres, he says, “The land to the West is privately owned by Storey County Properties Partnership.” (Page 2 of the Brochure.)

Is the mysterious Mr. Z the Storey County Properties Partnership, and just who are the Storey County Properties Partnership?

The Storey County Assessment Roll Assessment Information at http://www.storeycounty.org/assessor/search_new.asp shows Storey County Properties owning:

Parcel              Acres
004-111-01          480
004-131-08       8,545        3005 Canyon Way
004-211-05          351.54
 

According to the Nevada Secretary of State Business Entity Search the officers of Storey County Properties Partnership are: Alex G. Gassiot, Procter J. Hug, and Harold R. Lucey. Their Resident Agent is the law firm of Maupin, Cox & Legoy (http://www.waltherkey.com/about.html)

(The Nevada Business Entity Search is at https://esos.state.nv.us/SOSServices/AnonymousAccess/CorpSearch/CorpSearch.aspx)

Unfortunately, that doesn't tell us who the Storey County Properties Partnership really are.


By the Way, in looking for more information on the Storey County Properties Partnership I accidentally came across the minutes for the Storey County Commissioners Meeting for June 20, 2006. This is a meeting where they discussed the Painted Rock project which will have 3500 homes on it.

Amodei reminded the board with the development at the industrial park Storey County has become a major industrial player on the Pacific Rim and urged the board to make a responsible judgment, stating that the county needs to support the jobs they are creating.
That would be Nevada State Senator Mark Amodei, who is also Blake's attorney, and he is still singing that same song. And why not, it works.


I also came across this: a complaint filed against Commissioner Flanagan with the Nevada Commission on Ethics in February 2007. The Commission ruled that:

Based on the results of investigation, it is recommended that the Panel find that just and sufficient cause DOES NOT EXIST for the Commission to hold a hearing and render an opinion in this matter relating to the provisions of:
• NRS 281.481 (1)
• NRS281.481(4)
and
Allegations regarding NRS 281.481(1)

There is no credible evidence that Mr. Flanagan sought or accepted any gift, service, favor, employment, engagement, emolument or economic opportunity which would tend improperly to influence him in his position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of his public duties. As chairman of the county commission, Mr. Flanagan responded to a request from a constituent, directed through the county manager, to help expedite a business process within the recorder’s office. There is no evidence that Mr. Flanagan stood to benefit in any way by interceding on behalf of Mr. Smith.


I thought a constituent was "A resident of a district or member of a group represented by an elected official." Unless Blake is registered to vote here I don't see how he is a constituent.

He doesn't even own property here. His company does.

Even more interesting in the complaint is the information that the reason he wanted to get special treatment. From page 2:

During the board of commissioners’ meeting held on February 6, 2007, Storey County building official Dean Haymore and developer Blake Smith came into the recorder’s office to request that the map of a parcel, just approved by the Board of commissioners, be reviewed immediately. The parcel was part of a 1031 tax deferred exchange needing to be completed and recorded on or before Monday, February 12. Deputy Recorder Gerrie Honea explained that there were other documents received by the recorder’s office ahead of Mr. Smith’s map, and that the recorder’s office has up to ten days to review a map. Mr. Smith stated that he would pay overtime to get the map recorded.


The only part of the minutes of the February 6, 2007 meeting that look relevant are on page 2:

*DISCUSSION/ACTION: Approval of Planning Minutes— December 7, 2006

2007-020 Parcel Map - STOREY COUNTY PROPERTIES, LLC- Creating parcels for future sales:

Parcel 1 = 351.54+ ac being a portion of Sec 1, Sec 2 and Se c 12, TJ8NR2J F; and

Parcel 2 = 1822.33+ ac being all of sec 36 T19NR21E and portions of Sec 1, Sec 2 and Sec 12, T18NR21E.

After further discussion by the Planning Commissioners and questions from Dennis Miller, Larry Prater made a motion to approve. Lee Letts seconded and following Chairman Walling’s request for further discussion, all voted aye and the motion carried.


What is Blake's relationship with Storey County Properties?

What is the 1031 exchange about? What property did he exchange and who did he exchange it with? And where does Fritz Duda come into all this?



Here is how you can get assessment and tax information on property in Storey County. It isn't as good as the information you get by going to the Assessor's Office, but it's free.

Assessment Information
http://www.storeycounty.org/assessor/search_new.asp

Tax information
http://www.storeycounty.org/clerk/search.asp



State of Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Division of Water Resources

Databases on water including the Water Rights Database.

http://water.nv.gov/



A bill introduced by Senator Mark Amodei (Blake's attorney) on March 19, 2007 was passed by the Senate on April 23 and sent to the Nevada Assembly where it was Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining.

Click here for S.B. 405
 

According to this blogger (http://aquadoc.typepad.com/waterwired/2007/04/nevada_land_of_.html)

In Section 5, the bill would prohibit actions by local governments and state agencies that conflict with decisions of the State Engineer, and Section 8 prohibits the State Engineer from using the presence or absence of zoning or planning designations as a determining factor in analyzing an application.


It is on the Sierra Club's radar.
 

According to this article in the Nevada Appeal SB405 died without a hearing in the Assembly and was amended into Assembly Bill AB 285.

Another water bill introduced by Amodei (SB 487) was modified and signed into law by the Governor.

Here is the legislative history of SB 487.

Here is the enrolled version

It calls for several sections of the NRS to be amended and a new Section 531 to be established. This is expected to happen in early 2008.
 

The following explanation of what the new law means comes from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority - Draft Minutes of the June 20, 2007 Meeting of the Board of Directors:

Terri Thomas presented the detailed memorandum prepared by Steve Walker, TMWA Lobbyist, regarding the various water bills that were of interest to TMWA during the 2007 legislative session. Member Larkin asked about SB 267. Ms. Thomas said it was her understanding that all water issues that would have been undertaken by the newly created legislative committee would be undertaken by the Public Lands Committee. Mike Pagni, TMWA Counsel/Lobbyist, clarified that SB 487 does create an Interim Legislative Committee which will have oversight over the new Commission and is specifically charged with analyzing potential consolidation of the purveyors. It should consist of 6 Nevada legislators who represent constituents from Washoe County and will continue until July 2013.

Mr. Pagni presented the various aspects of the final version of SB 487 which will create the Western Regional Water Commission (WRWC). This bill had been revised significantly since last presented to the Board. The WRWC will not be responsible for developing or acquiring new water resources nor will it be responsible to provide wholesale service to water purveyors. Its primary functions will be conjunctive use management and regional resource coordination among the water purveyors. It will also establish service territories for the water purveyors. Underneath the WRWC will be a technical advisory board to be known as the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commission (NNWPC) which is in essence the current Regional Water Planning Commission. The NNWPC will no longer report to the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners; however, it will continue to perform the same functions as it does today. The effective date for this bill is April 1, 2008. In the meantime, SB 487 leaves the option open for the water purveyors and local government entities to craft a Joint Powers Agreement to create this entity; otherwise, the WRWC will be created automatically by operational law on April 1, 2008.

The WRWC Board composition consists of nine elected officials, two each from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County; one each from South Truckee Meadows General Improvement District (STMGID), Sun Valley General Improvement District (SVGID) and Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF). One each of the city and county officials must also be a member of the TMWA Board.


I don't see anything about Storey County. How can a regional water commission, even one that is only advisory, leave out Storey County?

The complete minutes are here.


Here is the transcript of the April 13, 2007 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Virginia City Highlands Firestation.

The PDF version is the official document. It is searchable from within Acrobat.

I converted it to text using OCR and made an html version. The html version is easier to search and easy to quote from by using cut-and-paste.

If you spoke at the meeting you can find your name, and what you said, and what Blake said.

You might want to think twice before you print it out. It's 165 pages; but then, it was a four-hour meeting, maybe longer.

Click Here for PDF   (567 KBytes PDF)

Click Here for html   (320 KBytes html)


May 21, 2007

I found some really nice maps of Virginia City and the Virginia City Highlands.



The Quest For Water #1
 

Water Measurements and Units

Water documents list the amount of water using several different measurements and units, which makes it difficult to compare the amount of water being discussed.

Acre-Foot (AF)

An acre-foot is the amount of water covering 1 acre in area and is 1 foot high.

One acre is an area of land that is 43,560 square feet.

Therefore, 1 acre-foot = 43,560 sq feet * 1 ft = 43,560 cubic feet.

One cubic foot (ft3) = 7.48051945 gallons, so 1 acre-foot = 43,560 cubic feet * 7.48051945 gallons/cubic foot =  325,851 gallons

1 acre-foot = 325,851 gallons
 

Acre-Foot Anually (AFA)

Number of acre-feet per year
 

MGA

The number of gallons per year can get very large. MGA means Millions of Gallons Annually
 

Cubic Feet per Second (CFS)

1 cubic foot = 7.48051945 gallons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_feet_per_second)

Number of seconds in a year:

    60 seconds/minute * 60 minutes/hour * 24 hours/day * 365.25 days/year = 31,557,600 seconds/year

Therefore, 1 cubic foot per second = 7.48051945 gallons/second * 31,557,600 seconds/year = 236,067,240 gallons/year.

At 325,851 gallons/AF, this comes out to 236,067,240 / 325,851 = 724.46 Acre-Feet Annually (AFA)

1 cubic foot per second (CFS) = 236,067,240 gallons/year = 724 Acre-Feet Annually (AFA)
 

As a result, something that sounds miniscule, such as 0.03 gallons/sec, becomes 236,067,240 gallons/year * 0.03 = 7,082,017 gallons/year.

7,082,017 gallons/year * 1 acre-foot/325,851 gallons = 21.7 AFA

The figure of 0.03 CFS was used by Storey County Properties Partnership LLP in application 56514
to take water from an unnamed spring

Although the application is marked Ready For Action, it does not appear that any action was taken.
 

Storey County Properties Partnership LLP did get a permit to take water from Long Valley Creek (56924) . However, they converted 0.5 CFS to 100 AFA. That's wrong. 0.5 CFS is 362 AFA.



It is unlikely that Blake Smith will be getting water from Storey County Properties Partnership LLP

The active water permits held by Storey County Properties Partnership LLP add up to 126.8 MGA (389 AFA) from the ground with another 362 AFA from Long Valley Creek.

The estimates for the amount of water needed per family range from 1/4 AFA to 1 AFA. Even at 1/4 AFA that would come to 389 AFA * 4 = 1556 families, which is 9% of what Blake Smith needs.

Note:

1.  At the Lockwood meeting Blake Smith said he wanted to build to an average density of 1 - 2 homes per gross acre. There are 8,600 gross acres. Two homes times 8,600 acres = 17,200 homes.

2.  If Storey County Properties Partnershio LLP sold all of their water to Blake Smith they would have to close down their Cemex Sierra Quarry, which is where the water would be coming from.

3.   I doubt they are getting much water from Long Valley Creek these days so it would not be prudent to count on it to supply water to Cordevista.

4.  Several applications were for Recreational purposes. I wonder what they were planning on building.

5.  According to Application 50459 (which was withdrawn) a Diversion Dam and Pump System was completed. Does that mean there is a dam on Long Valley Creek?
 

The Quest For Water goes on.
 

Jed Margolin
May 22, 2007



Storey County Properties Partership LLP - Water Certificate and Permits

This section has been moved to its own page. Click here.



June 9, 2007

This is the transcript of the May 3, 2007 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Rainbow Bend Clubhouse (Lockwood).

The official transcripts for the May 3, 2007 meeting of the Storey County Planning Commission are four PDF files about 4 Mbytes for each part, are not text-searchable, and are difficult to read either by humans or computer.

The reason for this is that the pages were reduced to fit 4 pages on each PDF page. The result is that the pages are  purely graphic images which is why the document is not text-searchable and the file sizes are so large. (A PDF file is a subset of PostScript with embedded fonts and data compression. When text with embedded fonts are used the document is text-searchable and the file size is smaller.)

Official Transcript - Part 1 (PDF, 3.8 MByte)
Official Transcript - Part 2 (PDF, 3.9 MByte)
Official Transcript - Part 3 (PDF, 3.8 MByte)
Official Transcript - Part 4 (PDF, 5.0 MByte)


I converted the documents to text using OCR and considerable hand editing.

I made several versions:

1.  A PDF version that is text-searchable. The file size is also much smaller than the official PDF files.

Transcript (PDF, 430 KByte)


2.  An html version. Good for reading online. As an html file it is naturally text-searchable.

Transcript (html, 260 KBytes)


3.  This version contains an index to the parts of the meeting. The index reflects my own opinion of what I consider interesting and/or important.

Transcript (html, 270 KBytes)


While every effort was made to produce a faithful text reproduction of the official transcript, I suggest that before quoting from a text document you compare it to the official PDF transcript.

Note that I have also reproduced what appears to be errors in the official transcript.

Also note that sometimes what appears to an error in the transcription process is really an error made by the speaker.
 

As a final check of the text transcript I used the free version of the ReadPlease 2003 text-to-speech program.
(http://www.readplease.com/english/downloads/#rp2003)

The program is easy to use. You copy-and-paste the text into the ReadPlease window, which is another reason why the html version is useful.

You can chose among four voices and several reading speeds.

The downside is that the window does not hold the entire transcript; you have to do it in sections.

I was impressed by the inflections that the program gives the text. It's come a long way since the Votrax.

Here is an example that I captured (wma, 1.7 MBytes).


June 20, 2007
 

No transcript was made of the Mark Twain meeting on May 17. That’s too bad. I have heard that it contained more of the drama and passion that I saw (and was part of) at the Lockwood meeting.

The following report by my neighbor, Jim Watson, was posted on our community newsgroup and is reposted here with his permission.

---------------
At the meeting at Mark Twain I specifically asked if Federal funds were being used on the Cordevista Project. Mr. Smith's answer was an unequivocal no. When I mentioned that that statement was in fact included in one of the brochures I had read it was implied that I didn't know what I was talking about. The following is a direct quote from the ( Project Background ) package submitted to the Building and Planning Dept. on 2/26/07.

Public services and facilities

The majority of public service and facility buildings will be financed through government assisted financing, third party financing, or developer generated fees for needed funds.


If this does not relate to Federal funds or State funds, which is our tax dollars, then it must mean Storey County. ?????

This is only one of the many contradictions found in the many documents produced by Cordevista. Another contradiction was in the letter of March 30th. In one paragraph it is stated that all Cordevista's infrastructure will be built and financed by Cordevista and deeded to Storey County or a GID. In another paragraph it is stated that the developers will contribute land and dollars towards the building of required community and public facilities including schools, parks and fire and police stations.

When I questioned his statement that it would be a (net positive community) he insisted that it would generate more taxes than it would cost.

If so, why aren't Lyon County and Washoe County begging him to place the community in their county instead of complaining about having to supply the housing for the TRI workers??

Another item of question is comments made by Mr. Smith that they will protect the Wild horses and provide areas for their ingress and egress. In the (Project Background ), I quote:

The wild horses found within the project area and throughout all of Storey County are part of the State and Federally protected Comstock Herd. If it becomes necessary to relocate these horses from all or part of the area, The Nevada Dept. of Agriculture must be contacted).


 If I were one of the horses I would not feel very secure at this point.

At the Lockwood meeting, because of the time, the Planning Commission allowed (rightfully) all of the persons that had signed up to talk to have their say. Do to the time Mr. Smith agreed to answer their questions later. I believe he said in writing. To my knowledge that has not been done. One of the questions was (what is your definition of open space) does it include roads, lawns etc.? In the mark Twain meeting, while the water subject was being discussed the question of how much of the acreage would be under roof? The reply was, if 40 to 45% was going to be open space that it would indicate that 50 to 55% would be under roof. This absolutely does not make sense. At two units per acre, gross, it would mean that the two units would have to cover 55% of 43650 sq. ft. There must be a standard to identify or define the meaning of open space, what is it ??

Mr. Smith was asked directly, If SB-487 does not pass will it have any effect on Cordevista's ability to get water. I believe that his answer was that it would not.

At the end of the meeting Mr. Smith made what I considered a veiled threat. If we don't approve his development then we could be stuck with the Heavy Industrial zoning now in place on the majority of the property allowing all kinds of nasty business to occupy the area. At this point Mr. Bill Sjovangen indicated that he would rather see that than Cordevista. I agree completely however I don't think we have to settle for that. I believe that until a ruling is made regarding the master plan amendment application that we can put the application on hold and go back and address the contents of the Master plan. I think that this should be looked at very closely. I don't disagree with some of the concepts of stabilizing our tax base by allowing the introduction of limited commercial and residential development. I don't believe that Cordevista is our best choice. Once the Master Plan amendment is approved it will be all down hill from there. I believe that we are at a critical point and it is time to draw the line in the sand.

Is it possible to revisit the TRI decisions and request some isolated portion of that property contain the commercial enterprises such as retail establishments, just a thought.
--------------------------

This article in the Virginia City News adds some additional details: http://www.virginiacitynews.com/files/cordevista_discussion.htm

The Virginia City News gives good coverage of the Virginia City Highlands:
http://www.virginiacitynews.com/highlands.html
 

One of the items about the Mark Twain meeting particularly caught my attention. If we don't change the zoning so he can build his project, he will use it under the current zoning (Special Industrial).

He emphasized that the property, with it’s special industrial zoning, used for hazardous waste and explosive manufacturing, among other things, had what he called “dirty” zoning and implied that the use was dangerous.

He said he could develop that type of project without approval by the planning commission, but was interested in developing residences.

The good news is that Blake has stopped threatening to dismember Storey County.

The bad news is that now he is threatening to blow it up.


June 20, 2007 (continued)

I have received another item from Jim.

I am sending you some pictures of a (Sierra Alligator Lizard ) It is a protected Species in Nevada. It may well exist in certain areas of Storey County. If anyone were to see one, they should document it with a picture and as exact a location as possible and report it to the Natural Heritage Program. It should not be disturbed or captured.
 


 
 

Click here for a larger picture as well as more pictures.
 
 

One of the reasons we should be interested in the Sierra Alligator Lizard is because the subject leads back to Blake Smith's Wildlife Review and Evaluation Report which gives the impression of being a Wildlife Review and Evaluation Report but isn't, because no site-specific survey was done.
 

Part of Blake's report is a letter from the Nevada Natural Heritage Program, which states:

Please note that our data are dependent on the research and observations of many individuals and organizations, and in most cases are not the result of comprehensive or site-specific field surveys. Natural Heritage reports should never be regarded as final statements on the taxa or areas being considered, nor should they be substituted for on-site surveys required for environmental assessments
Click here for this letter.


June 20, 2007 (continued)
 

The name of Blake's company is Virginia Highlands LLC, which is likely to confuse people with the name of our community, the Virginia City Highlands. I believe this is for the purpose of trading on our good name if he ever gets to the point of selling homes in Cordevista.

I have some experience with Patents and Trademarks. The test for a trademark is not whether it is identical. The test is whether a reasonable person is likely to confuse it with another trademark. While a local person might understand the difference between Virginia Highlands and Virginia City Highlands, a person from out-of-area is likely to think they are the same community. Cordevista's stated purpose is to provide housing for (some of) the new workers coming to TRI. If they were already living in the area they would already have housing and wouldn't need Cordevista. Therefore, they must be coming from out-of-area. My personal opinion is that the deliberate similarity in names constitutes fraud.

It might be more than that.

The Cordevista project is made up of 6,800 acres owned by Blake Smith and 1,800 acres owned by the Gateway Company owned by Fritz Duda.

According the Fritz Duda web site at http://www.fritzduda.com/community/nevada/mountaingate.htm the project's real name is not Cordevista. It's the Virginia Highlands.

In case this page disappears from the Fritz Duda website I have kept a copy here.
 

Is Blake Smith planning to call his project the Virginia Highlands?



July 26, 2007
 

Last week the Planning Commission voted to turn down Blake Smith's request to amend the Master Plan.

It started out with Blake's attorneys asserting that the Cordevista Project already conforms to the Master Plan and that no amendment is necessary.

This has been nicely covered in the Virginia City News: Cordevista master-plan amendment denied and Quotes from the Cordevista meeting and in the Nevada Appeal Cordevista master-plan amendment denied.
 

At this meeting, the Planning Commissioners each had a large White Binder entitled Application Record which had been given to them by Blake Smith only two days earlier.

After the meeting, Lydia very kindly loaned me her copy so I could scan it.

It looks a lot like an Appendix for a Legal Brief. Notice that, with a few exceptions, the pages are all sequentially numbered.

Also note that it contains only comments from those members of the public who were in favor of Cordevista, which is understandable since it was produced by Blake's people.

There are lots of interesting things in it. I expect to have more to say about it.

And here it is, Blake's White Binder


July 27, 2007
 

There is so much great material in it.

1.  Amodei started complaining last September that Blake was being treated unfairly. From: www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/file03.htm

I am writing at this juncture to request additional information regarding an advisement that was provided at your meeting with Mr. Smith last Friday, September 15th. I am unsure as to the specific content of the advisement and as to the specific source of same, however, Mr. Smith has indicated that issues involve recalls of County Commissioners, local initiative petitions, and requirements for public votes on any project proposals were all set forth.


Blake's interpretation of the meeting is a little different.

In his letter of September 26 - referring to the same meeting on September 15 -- he wrote,
from www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/file04.htm:

We felt that the meeting was very informative and helpful. As you know, the intention of the meeting was to gain a clear understanding of what is required by Storey County as we proceed forward on this development project. We appreciate your straight-forward approach in helping us understand what is required. We continue to be excited about this project and we would like to proceed to the application process.


Amodei's letter is actually understandable. As an attorney his job is to act in his client's best interests and he may have only been building a case in the event it ended up in Court. Still, I doubt it won him any friends.
 

In any event, I think Dean was trying to help Blake by pointing out that this project was going to raise important issues for the County which were likely to cause the citizens to get involved.

He was right.

Blake should have listened.

Then, instead of dealing with the issues head-on, he tried to sell us on his project by using the sales techniques used to sell toothpaste.

Last February, both Dean and County Commissioner John Flanagan tried to get Blake preferential treatment in registering some subdivision maps out-of-turn. http://www.cordevistahoa.org/flanagan.pdf

Yet, Amodei is still complaining that Blake was treated unfairly:  (http://www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/file76.htm)
 

2.  Amodei's attempt to smear the Board of Commissioners is a red herring.

All the members of the Board of Commissioners have to do is for the Commissioner who has been smeared to abstain and for the other two to accept the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

The worst Amodei can say is that the Planning Commission did their job -- which included listening to the Community -- when they rejected Blake's request to change the Master Plan.
 

3.  In Mollath's letter (http://www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/file75.htm) he characterized a zone change from Special Industrial to Mixed Use as Down-Zoning.

The "down zoning" request from "I-S"- Special Industrial zoning to mixed-use zoning should be the only application to be reviewed by the Planning Commission.


From: http://www.realtor.org/libweb.nsf/pages/fg807:

Downzoning

"A change in zoning from a higher to a lower or from a more active to less active classification... In these cases, there is no taking under eminent domain and thus no compensation paid to the affected landowner who helplessly sees the property reduce in value."

Source: The Language of Real Estate, (Chicago, IL: Real Estate Education Company, 2000).


Rezoning Blake's property from Special Industrial to Mixed Use would not decrease the value of the property. It would increase it substantially. It is not Down-Zoning.

But if he wants it down-zoned I'm sure we can accommodate him. How about going back to Forestry?

That would allow him to build one home per 40 acre parcel, which comes out to 8,600/40 = 215 homes. Not all of it is buildable, and he doesn't get to put one home per 40 gross acres, so he might only get 150 homes.
 

4.  There's the letter from Reno Mayor Cashell  www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/File0072.PDF [VH0628] saying we shouldn't stick Reno with providing housing for TRI's workers.

Then there's the "study" that shows that residential housing is a net positive for a county, especially if you are Douglas County and the average price of a new single-family home is $508,693. [White Binder VH0605 (www.cordevistahoa.org/binder/File0071.PDF)]
 

Mayor Cashell seems to making a threat:

Reno and Sparks should not be burdened with fulfilling your housing and public service needs without benefitting from the commercial and industrial real estate taxes generated by the park.


I would remind Mayor Cashell that our generating plants provide power to Reno and that our landfill takes all of its garbage.

If he wants to go to war against Storey County we can turn off his power and stop taking his garbage, so that the Biggest Little City in the World will also be the Darkest and the Smelliest.
 

Jed Margolin
Virginia City Highlands
July 27, 2007


July 28, 2007

At one point during the Planning Commission meeting in Virginia City on July 19, County Manager Pat Whitten read a letter from Lance Gilman (Principal Partner of TRI). In the letter -- dated July 15 -- Gilman said:

1.   "Based on my ongoing experiences in dealing with site selectors and national firms, it appears that nothing is impeding their desire to locate in TRI and Storey County. In fact, all involved seem most satisfied with existing housing availability on a regional basis."

2.   "For the record, TRI has not entered into any agreement pertaining to establishing access roads from the Cordevista site into the TRI project. Again, I wish to be clear that while the development LLC members of TRI may not be closed to such a concept at some future point, and following extensive traffic studies with impacts identified to our project infrastructure, we may do so only when it becomes advantageous to both the Industrial Park project and with the approval of Storey County."

3.   "TRI has not, and is not currently, negotiating for the sale or transfer of water rights to Cordevista or their principle agents."


The meeting was held upstairs in the old County Courthouse in the old Courtroom.

Hearing the letter read in that grand old courtroom I immediately thought, "Mark Gunderson (the County's Attorney) is Perry Mason and Stephen Mollath (Blake's litigation attorney) is Hamilton Burger."

I guess Pat and Dean would be Paul Drake.

All we need now is someone to be Della Street.
 

Here is Lance Gilman's letter (PDF).

And here it is in html.


-------------------------------

At the Planning Commission meeting in Lockwood on May 3, the Planning Commission decided on a continuance and to get input from the County departments.

Here is Cordevista Impact Staff Report submitted by the County departments (PDF):

Report
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3
Attachment 4
Attachment 5


And here it is in html.
 

The report is a dose of reality, and I encourage you to read it.
 

JM


Blake's White Binder contains the transcript of the July 11, 2007 information meeting for Virginia City at Piper's Opera House.

Here is the original PDF version.

Here is an html version.



August 6, 2007
 

The County has its own record of the Cordevista application.



Additional Documents
 

7/24/2007    (Received 8/9/2007)    Letter from Merrily Roesch supporting Cordevista. Ms. Roesch lives in San Bernadino, CA, and owns a 40-acre parcel.



August 20, 2007

Here are the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan amendment.

PDF version

html version



August 20, 2007

Transcript of the Planning Commission meeting on July 19, 2007 where they denied Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan amendment.

PDF version

html version


August 26, 2007
 

The Board of Commissioners met on August 21. Blake Smith's request for a Master Plan Amendment in order to build Cordevista was on the Agenda

The Board of Commissioners voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to deny Blake Smith's application.

See Karen Woodmansee's article in the Nevada Appeal and this article in the Virginia City News.
 

It was another great meeting. I will post the transcript as soon as I get it.

As in past meetings, the comments from the public showed the passion that this issue has inspired within the County. Here is a copy of what Rusty Aldrich said.
 

Here are some of my observations about the meeting.

1.  Blake's litigation attorney, Stephen Mollath, seemed to spend a large part of his time rearguing the High-Shear case where he represented High-Shear against the County and lost. He may have thought he was threatening to bring back bad actors like High-Shear if Blake's project was not approved. If so, I think it backfired.

2.  As my neighbor, Jim Watson, observed, "the planning expert opened his presentation by proclaiming that the master plan has to be looked at as a whole and not picked apart to support a given position, he then proceeded to pick it apart to support his position."

I noticed that, too. My feeling is that we don't need an Urban Planner, we need a Rural Planner, because "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Is there such as thing as a Rural Planner? If there isn't, there should be.
 

Although the Board of Commissioners accepted the Planning Commission's decision to deny Blake Smith's application to build Cordevista, that doesn't mean it's over, just that Part 1 is over.

Blake has a great many options to choose from. The following are my opinions. (I am not a lawyer, I am an Engineer.)
 

1.  Blake can sue the County.

I don't think you can sue a county just because you are unhappy with their decision. You would have to show that they violated their own rules (or applied them improperly) or that they violated the Nevada Revised Statutes.

I think the record shows that the County went out of their way to accommodate Blake and that the decision to deny his application was fairly based on the Master Plan.

At the meeting, Blake said that he had never sued anyone (to get a project approved). He was proud of that, and rightly so. Getting a project approved through a lawsuit can leave bad feelings that last for decades.

If Blake sues us there is also the problem of venue. The Storey County District Court is part of the the First Judicial District Court that serves Storey County and Carson City. I don't think he would want the case heard there.

Reno Mayer Cashell and Robert Larkin (Chairman of the Washoe County Commission) wrote letters supporting Blake's project. Mayor Cashell even went so far as threatening Storey County if we did not surrender. That poisoned the well for having the case heard in Washoe County.

Las Vegas has a well-deserved reputation for favoring Developers, so Clark County is out.
 

That leaves the other counties in Nevada, all of them with small populations.

How about Elko? Elko (in the Eastern part of Nevada) is the sixth largest county in the United States (17,181 square miles) and has an interesting history (See www.elkonevada.com/history.shtml)

According to that page:

It is believed that Native Americans inhabited what is now the Elko area for 10,000 - 13,000 years prior to the first visits by European trappers and explorers. They lived by hunting, fishing and gathering native plants, including seeds, berries, rose hips and pinenuts. The early Indians trapped fish with willow traps woven out of pliant willow branches, narrow at the neck and widening at the bottom. The first contact with the white man in Nevada was in 1826 when Jedediah Smith made contact with the Shoshone Indians in central Nevada and relayed this information to Meriweather Clark of Lewis and Clark fame.
(Perhaps Blake and I share a common ancestor.)
 

2.  Blake can wait a year and reapply.

During this time he can think about what he did wrong and what he did right. One of the things he did wrong was to threaten to dismember the County by having Reno annex TRI.

He did do some things right, like identifying the too-small culverts in Rainbow Bend as contributing to the flooding problem there.

However, his promise to prevent all flooding in Rainbow Bend/Lockwood was not supported by the data (Only 16% of the water from Long Valley Creek comes through his property).

On a number of issues he made promises but could not support them with specifics. For example, he promised to build schools in Cordevista that the children of Rainbow Bend/Lockwood could go to. Unfortunately, Blake's consultants had not provided him with any specific information about building schools. That was supplied from the audience by Henry Kilmer, retired school superintendent for Storey County and currently the board chairman of Piper’s Opera House.

Given the uniformly poor showing by Blake's consultants, perhaps he should fire them and get new ones.
 

3.   Blake can simply wait until Painted Rock develops and see how that works out.

Then he can reapply.

But he should choose a different name. "Cordevista" sounds too Californian.
 

4.   Blake can develop his property according to the zoning as Special Industrial and bring in companies who use hazardous materials and blow things up.

Blake could do that, but I don't think he would feel good about it. He builds homes for people to live in.
 

5.   Blake could develop the property for solar power plants.

Storey County seems to like solar power.

I expect wind power would be good, too.

Blake's property contains several buildings left by previous owners. Perhaps he could form a joint venture with The University of Nevada, Reno, to use the buildings for doing research into alternative energy systems.


September 12, 2007

Here is the transcript of the historic meeting of the Storey County Board of Commissioners on August 21, 2007 where the Board voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to deny Blake Smith's application.

Transcript (PDF, 1.5 MBytes)

Transcript (html, 95 KBytes)


September 17, 2007
 

Blake Smith sues the County.
 

Here is the lawsuit, filed on September 11, 2007.

Lawsuit (tif  458 KBytes)        (This is the original file that I received)

Lawsuit (PDF 468 KBytes)     (I used a program to convert it to PDF)

Lawsuit (html 36 KBytes)        (I used OCR to convert it to text)
 
 

The lawsuit states: "This action is brought pursuant to the provisions of NRS 30.010, et seq., and NRS 278.0233."

(Et seq. or sqq., an abbreviation of the Latin phrase et sequentes (masculine and feminine plural) or et sequentia (neuter) meaning "and the following," identifies a page citation that continues on the pages that follow, or a statutory section or subsection and the sections or subsections that follow it.)
 

NRS 30.010

NRS 30.010  Short title.  NRS 30.010 to 30.160, inclusive, may be cited as the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act.
      [16:22:1929; NCL 9455]

Appears to refer to the entire section of NRS 30.010 to 30.160.

From the state website: www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/NRS-030.html

Local Copy: NRS-030.html
 

NRS 278.0233

This is part of NRS CHAPTER 278 - PLANNING AND ZONING

The complete chapter is here: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Nrs/NRS-278.html

Local Copy: NRS-278.html

In particular, here is NRS 278.0233:

     NRS 278.0233  Actions against agency: Conditions and limitations.

      1.  Any person who has any right, title or interest in real property, and who has filed with the appropriate state or local agency an application for a permit which is required by statute or an ordinance, resolution or regulation adopted pursuant to NRS 278.010 to 278.630, inclusive, before that person may improve, convey or otherwise put that property to use, may bring an action against the agency to recover actual damages caused by:

      (a) Any final action, decision or order of the agency which imposes requirements, limitations or conditions upon the use of the property in excess of those authorized by ordinances, resolutions or regulations adopted pursuant to NRS 278.010 to 278.630, inclusive, in effect on the date the application was filed, and which:

             (1) Is arbitrary or capricious; or

             (2) Is unlawful or exceeds lawful authority.

      (b) Any final action, decision or order of the agency imposing a tax, fee or other monetary charge that is not expressly authorized by statute or that is in excess of the amount expressly authorized by statute.

      (c) The failure of the agency to act on that application within the time for that action as limited by statute, ordinance or regulation.

      2.  An action must not be brought under subsection 1:

      (a) Where the agency did not know, or reasonably could not have known, that its action, decision or order was unlawful or in excess of its authority.

      (b) Based on the invalidation of an ordinance, resolution or regulation in effect on the date the application for the permit was filed.

      (c) Where a lawful action, decision or order of the agency is taken or made to prevent a condition which would constitute a threat to the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the community.

      (d) Where the applicant agrees in writing to extensions of time concerning his application.

      (e) Where the applicant agrees in writing or orally on the record during a hearing to the requirements, limitations or conditions imposed by the action, decision or order, unless the applicant expressly states in writing or orally on the record during the hearing that a requirement, limitation or condition is agreed to under protest and specifies which paragraph of subsection 1 provides cause for the protest.

      (f) For unintentional procedural or ministerial errors of the agency.

      (g) Unless all administrative remedies have been exhausted.

      (h) Against any individual member of the agency.

      (Added to NRS by 1983, 2099; A 1995, 1035)


September 21, 2007

Here is a good article by Karen Woodmansee in the Nevada Appeal,

and here is an article in the Virginia City News. (It mentions this web site.)

--------------------

While I was searching the Nevada Revised Statutues to see if there was an offical definition of "Up-Zoning" or Down-Zoning" I found this in NRS 113.070  Required disclosures by certain sellers relating to zoning classifications, designations in master plan regarding land use and general land uses described in master plan. (Emphasis added.)

NRS 113.070  Required disclosures by certain sellers relating to zoning classifications, designations in master plan regarding land use and general land uses described in master plan.

      1.  Before the initial purchaser of a residence signs a sales agreement or opens escrow, whichever occurs earlier, the seller shall, by separate written document, disclose to the initial purchaser the zoning classifications and the designations in the master plan regarding land use adopted pursuant to chapter 278 of NRS, and the general land uses described therein, for the adjoining parcels of land. The written document must contain a statement with the following language:

Zoning classifications describe the land uses currently permitted on a parcel of land. Designations in the master plan regarding land use describe the land uses that the governing city or county proposes for a parcel of land. Zoning classifications and designations in the master plan regarding land use are established and defined by local ordinances. If the zoning classification for a parcel of land is inconsistent with the designation in the master plan regarding land use for the parcel, the possibility exists that the zoning classification may be changed to be consistent with the designation in the master plan regarding land use for the parcel. Additionally, the local ordinances that establish and define the various zoning classifications and designations in the master plan regarding land use are also subject to change.

      2.  If the residence is located within a subdivision, the disclosure made pursuant to subsection 1 must be made regarding all parcels of land adjoining the unit of the subdivision in which the residence is located. If the residence is located on land divided by a parcel map and not located within a subdivision, the disclosure must be made regarding all parcels of land adjoining the parcel map. Such a disclosure must be made regardless of whether the adjoining parcels are owned by the seller. The seller shall retain a copy of the disclosure document which has been signed by the initial purchaser acknowledging the date of receipt by the initial purchaser of the original document.

      3.  The information contained in the disclosure document required by subsection 1 must:

      (a) Be updated not less than once every 6 months, if the information is available from the local government;

      (b) Advise the initial purchaser that the master plan is for the general, comprehensive and long-term development of land in the area and that the designations in the master plan regarding land use provide the most probable indication of future development which may occur on the surrounding properties;

      (c) Advise the initial purchaser that the master plan and zoning ordinances and regulations adopted pursuant to the master plan are subject to change; and

      (d) Provide the initial purchaser with instructions on how to obtain more current information regarding zoning classifications and designations in the master plan regarding land use.

      4.  As used in this section, “seller” means a person who sells or attempts to sell any land or tract of land in this state which is divided or proposed to be divided over any period into two or more lots, parcels, units or interests, including, but not limited to, undivided interests, which are offered, known, designated or advertised as a common unit by a common name or as a part of a common promotional plan of advertising and sale.

      (Added to NRS by 1989, 817; A 1995, 380; 1997, 1711; 1999, 910, 1633, 1637)


I would like to see that document, wouldn't you?

(Note that although Mollath implies that Blake bought the property from Hi-Shear, the record shows that he bought it from TRW.)
 

Click here for the full NRS Chapter 113: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-113.html.

Click here for a Local Copy



October 7, 2008

From the Storey County Web Site:


Date Posted: (10/6/2008) Posted by: Storey County Commissioners Office
Cordevista Judicial Hearing Decision 

Storey County Officials learned this morning that Justice Miriam Shearing has issued her Decision and Order in the matter of Virginia Highlands, LLC vs. Storey County. This decision arises as a result of ongoing legal proceedings which culminated in a hearing before Justice Shearing on September 22nd.  The decision and order fully support Storey County’s actions in denying Virginia Highland’s previous Application for Amendment to our Master Plan.  Additionally, the order also states that “since the court has concluded that the Virginia Highlands’ Zoning Application was inconsistent with the Master Plan…and that since the Storey County Commission never considered the Zoning Application, ” Virginia Highlands request for Zoning Application” is also denied.

For a full text of the decision, please click here.


Click here for the full decision (PDF).

Here is the decision converted to text (by Jed Margolin):
___________

Case No.    CV20121                                FILED
Dept. No.    1                                            2008 SEP 25 PM 3:50
                                                                  Storey County Clerk
                                                                  By   D Bacus
                                                                          Deputy

IN THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF STOREY

-o0o-

VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS, LLC, a Nevada
limited liability company,


            Petitioner,

vs.                                                                                                         DECISION AND ORDER

STOREY COUNTY, a political subdivision
of the State of Nevada,


            Respondent.


        This is a petition for judicial review by Virginia Highlands, LLC, a real estate development company, challenging the decision of the Storey County Commission denying an application for an amendment to the Storey County Master Plan. Virginia Highlands asks for review of the Storey County decision under: NRS 278.0233, Actions Against Agencies, and NRS Chapter 30.010, the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act.

        On February 26, 2007, Virginia Highlands filed with Storey County a Master flan Amendment Application and a Zone Change Application seeking a mixed-use residential Planned Unit Development for 8,600 acres in Storey County. Before the property was purchased by Virginia Highlands, it had been used since 1986 as a manufacturing, storage and testing facility for ammunition, rocket propellant and explosives and was zoned Special Industrial Use.

        On December 20, 1994, Storey County adopted its Master Plan. The Master Plan contained the following statement regarding the property now owned by Virginia Highlands:
___________
-2-

A short distance beyond the disposal site is the turnoff to the Aerojet of Nevada facility, which is at the end of a winding two lane road. This high-tech explosives manufacturing and testing facility is intentionally located in an area four miles from any other development. As such it provides an unusual planning and land use opportunity. With the existing two-plus mile buffer around it, consideration should be given to classifying the area a "high risk industrial" zone, The "high risk industrial" classification could be defined to include similar facilities. Property tax rates for this classification would reflect costs related to providing additional services. It is likely that many firms involved in same or similar types of manufacturing and/or testing would be interested in relocating to an area which already had the necessary regulatory framework in place.

        Virginia Highlands' argument regarding-its application for the Master Plan amendment is two-fold. First it argues that the statement regarding the Aerojet property was not the result of a rational planning process, but was rather merely the recognition of a prior existing Special Use Permit which was imposed by a prior Stipulation and Court Order involving a predecessor of Virginia Highlands. Therefore, it argues, the statement is not really a part of the Master Plan and should be given no consideration.

        The second argument of Virginia Highlands regarding the amendment application is that even if the Special Industrial designation of the property is consistent with the Storey County Master Plan, Virginia Highlands' request for a Mixed Use Residential designation is also consistent with the Master Plan; and the high risk industrial designation is no longer appropriate since those high-risk functions have been abandoned. Therefore, for both reasons, the Master Plan Amendment Application was unnecessary and the Commissioners had to consider the Zone Change Application.

        At the Commission meeting on August 21st, 2007, at which the amendment application was considered, the Storey County Commission denied the Master Plan Amendment Application and did not consider the Zone Change Application. The question for this court, then, is whether the denial of the Master Plan Amendment Application was appropriate.

        Virginia Highlands maintains that the statement in the Master Plan regarding its property is not to be considered because it was not part of a rational and deliberative planning process, but rather merely recognition of a prior court order allowing high-risk use. The
___________
-3-

language of the statement belies that view. The statement recognizes that because of the location of the property four miles from any other development "it provides an unusual planning and land use opportunity." It goes on to say:

Property tax rates for this classification would reflect costs related to providing additional services. It is likely that many firms involved in the same or similar types of manufacturing and/or testing would be interested in relocating to an area which already had the necessary regulatory framework in place.

        The Commissioners were looking to attract other businesses of the same type, thereby generating more taxes. They were not looking to the past, but had a rational basis for maintaining the high-risk use designation into the future. The statement in the Master Plan regarding the property now owned by Virginia Highlands cannot be ignored or read out of the plan. The Commission clearly intended to maintain the property for special industrial use as part of the Master Plan.

        The housing development proposed by Virginia Highlands for its property is not consistent with this Master Plan. A master plan is to serve as a pattern and guide for the growth and development of the county. Therefore, an amendment to the Master Plan would be necessary if the Virginia Highlands development project were to go forward.

        This court must give deference to the legislative determination of the Storey County Commission that it did not wish to amend its Master Plan. Although the Nevada Supreme Court has not dealt directly with the standard of review of a county decision not to amend a master plan, it is clear that the court must be highly deferential to the enacting body. As the Nevada Supreme Court said in Coronet Homes, Inc. v. McKenzie, 84 Nev. 250, 255-56, 439 P.2d 219, 223 (1968), in the context of a land use request:

The days are fast disappearing when the judiciary can look at a zoning ordinance and, with nearly as much confidence as a professional zoning expert, decide upon the merits of a zoning plan and its contribution to the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the community. Courts are becoming increasingly aware that they are neither super boards of adjustment nor planning commissions of last resort.

        Nevada law, thus, is consistent with the law of Minnesota as articulated in Concept Properties, LLP v. City of Minnetrista, 694 N.W. 2d 804, 814 (Minn. App. 2005). A
___________
-4-

municipal body acts in a legislative capacity when it adopts or amends a comprehensive land-use plan. Id. Municipal bodies have broad discretion in making zoning and land-use decisions. Id. Courts will reverse zoning decisions only where there are no grounds for reasonable debate and where the action of the municipal body is arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, or illegal. Id. The evidence presented by Virginia Highlands was not sufficient to support the view that any of these defects apply to the Storey County refusal to amend its Master Plan.

        For the foregoing reasons, this court denies Virginia Highlands' prayer that Storey County be ordered to approve the Application for Amendment to the Master Plan. Since this court has concluded that the Virginia Highlands' Zoning Application was inconsistent with the Master Plan and finds that the Storey County Commission never considered the Zoning Application, this court also denies Virginia Highlands' prayer that its Zoning Application be approved. This court also concludes that there is no basis for any relief to Virginia Highlands under NRS 278.0237.

        IT IS SO ORDERED this 24th Day of September, 2008.

Miriam Shearing
Senior Judge



If Virginia Highlands LLC makes a public comment on the matter I will post it here.  JM



Epilogue

Virginia Highlands LLC appealed Storey County's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Before the case was heard Virginia Highlands LLC settled with Storey County.

See this article from the Virginia City News, dated November 19, 2009 by Karen Woodmansee: Click Here.

From the article:  

A developer’s two-year effort to build thousands of homes in the center of Storey County has ended.

The Storey County Commission voted Tuesday to approve a settlement with the developer, Nevada Upland LLC, formerly Virginia Highlands LLC, 

County Manager Pat Whitten told the commissioners the settlement removes any chance that thousands of homes will be built in the region the developer had designated as Cordevista, the former TRW property in the center of the county.

He said the county only allows the owners to use the land in the manner allowed by county zoning as well as for green energy development.

Note that as a bonus Virginia Highlands LLC changed their name. They are now Nevada Uplands LLC.

I always felt that by calling themselves Virginia Highlands LLC they were trading on the name of my community Virginia City Highlands and that people might think they were somehow connected to us.

Problem solved.

For the Court document containing the Settlement Agreement click here.

For all of the Court Documents click here.

If there are any further developments I will note them here.

I will end this for now by observing that the Developer's web site for Cordevista (www.cordevista.com or www.cordevista.org) is gone. This web site (www.cordevistahoa.org) and the various articles in the Virginia City News (www.virginiacitynews.com) will probably end up being the only record of what happened here in Storey County.

Hurrah for the Internet and whatever it will be called in the centuries to come.

Jed Margolin
Virginia City Highlands, NV