Wednesday, August 6, 2003
6:50 p.m.

Reno City Hall
490 South Center Street, Room 211
Reno, Nevada


CHAIRPERSON DIANEMARIE COLLINS: Moving on now to Item No. 2, LDC03-00569, Ballardini Ranch, request for voluntary annexation of a 1,019-acre ranch located on the south side of McCarran Boulevard at the Manzanita Drive intersection. We've got a planner, Arlo Stockham, right? I've got lots of comments on this one.

MR. TIM NELSON: Good evening. My name is Tim Nelson. I'm here on behalf of the applicant, Evans Creek, LLC, which has submitted an annexation application to the City of Reno to annex the entirety of the Ballardini Ranch to the City of Reno.

We have had preliminary staff review with the City of Reno, and I would like to address some of the questions and concerns that were raised in those staff comments and also tell you that we have provided supplementary materials to the City with regard to those questions.

I would also like to correct some timing issues. Because we offered to meet with the two NABs that are closer to the property, Wards 1 and 2, and also with the Southwest Truckee Meadows CAB, the City Council hearing on this will be rescheduled for the 10th of September, not August 20th or August 27th, as had been previously indicated.

First of all, I think we need to distinguish that this is a voluntary request for annexation by a contiguous — by a 100-percent owner of a contiguous property, that this property is abutting South McCarran Boulevard, roughly between — just to the southeast of the Caughlin Ranch and just to the west of the Lakeridge area.

This is under specific state statute which provides for annexation to the City on the request of a property owner which is contiguous to the City. This property is contiguous to the City for almost three miles of border on its west, north and east sides. This is similar to the much-discussed Verdi annexation case which went through the courts and confirmed the right of those property owners to annex to the City last year.

Why have we requested annexation to the City of Reno? Basically because we think that it's common sense to provide for the further growth and expansion of the City of Reno on this property which is adjacent to the City, it's in the path of growth, it's got services available adjacent to the property. The north half of the property or a little less than half of the property is already in the Sphere of Influence of the City of Reno. It's part of the Reno City Annexation Program.

This is one parcel currently split by the Sphere of Influence line and also split by the TMSA [Truckee Meadows Services Area] services line as a result of the Regional Planning Board's action last spring. It doesn't make sense to split the property in terms of jurisdiction. It makes sense to be under one jurisdiction. We think, based on how the property is situated, the development that's around it, it makes most sense for this property to be in the City of Reno. The annexation laws don't contemplate splitting properties in annexation, so we think this should all go into the City of Reno.

One of the questions — one of the other reasons, subreasons, why we've applied for annexation to the City of Reno is that we've both observed and had some personal experience with the County process, County politics, some County preferences with regard to development. It's not been a good process for us, and we believe we would be better off under the jurisdiction of the City of Reno.

One of the questions that's come up with regard to the property is — and about which there has been a lot of information bandied about in the public and in the press, which includes a lot of misinformation — is whether this property is going to be purchased by the public to be preserved as open space. There are no current discussions, negotiations, agreements pending whatsoever with regard to the purchase of this property for public open space.

It is on the so-called Round 3 list of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act targets for acquisition, but that has been done apparently by Washoe County despite the fact that over a year ago a letter was sent to Washoe County withdrawing the willing seller status which is required to be a participant in that program, and informing them that we were pulling out of discussions which had been ongoing with Washoe County about a public acquisition of the ranch and participation in the Southern Nevada program.

Let me step back a little bit in time to give you a little bit more historical perspective. There have been three significant failed efforts on the part of the public to purchase this ranch. The first occurred under prior ownership when a national conservation group entered into an option purchase agreement to purchase the property. They extended their option agreement a number of times, ultimately terminated the agreement because they didn't have the funds to purchase the ranch, and they also indicated there were higher priority, more sensitive properties elsewhere that they wanted to focus on.

Subsequent to that, our group purchased the property in the spring of 1998. In November of 2000, without consent or participation of the property owners, Washoe County targeted this property for acquisition on its bond issue for parks — and for acquisition of parks and open space — designating the amount of $4 million for that acquisition. They were quoted in the paper soon after the bond issue was passed as saying that within weeks they would be in contact with the property owners to start negotiating the acquisition. In fact, they waited almost a full year, ten months before contacting us.

Despite that delay and despite the fact that there had been no consent to even be included in the bond issue in the first place and partly because the City of Reno passed the resolution urging consideration of the public acquisition, and because we thought it was politically appropriate to do so even though there wasn't really a desire on the owner's part to consider selling, we entered into preliminary agreements with Washoe County in the spring — excuse me — in the fall of 2001, which would have provided opportunity for a public acquisition of the property.

We did provide a willing seller letter initially with regard to the Southern Nevada acquisition program, which is a key part of that federal legislation. You have to have a willing seller to be part of the program. It's not a program designed to condemn people's property and use those funds for acquisition. We were participating in a cooperative manner with County representatives.

Unfortunately, when the regional planning update process came about in the spring of 2002, there were some other things at play. Under the guise of "maintaining the status quo," there were a number of efforts made to change the designations in the draft Regional Plan which would have provided for including the entire ranch both within the sphere of Reno and within the Truckee Meadows Service Area as proper and appropriate for planning future growth of an urban-suburban style in that area.

Under pressure from the folks who were advocating a public acquisition of the ranch, who really wanted to have some impact on the value of the property to be able to purchase the property at something of a lesser price or lesser value, the Regional Plan was changed in the 11th hour to exclude the southern part of the ranch from the sphere and from the services area in an effort to ostensibly help that public acquisition effort. It was clearly a political decision based on the public acquisition efforts. I don't think there was even a rationale set forth based on planning criteria or planning objectives for that decision.

Stepping back a moment again, in the spring of 2000, when the bond issue process was getting started, there was an editorial in the Reno Gazette-Journal urging that the open space advocates have a year to put together a program to purchase this ranch. It's now about three and a half years since that editorial, it's now about three years since the bond issue itself, and there hasn't even been an offer from the County regarding property. It's been 15 months since we withdrew from discussions with the County and withdrew the willing seller letter with regard to the Southern Nevada program, and yet they proceed to put it out to the public that we're just on the threshold, we're just on the doorstep of being able to complete this purchase, which is far from the case.

Notwithstanding the problems with the County process around the Regional Plan, and having terminated our direct discussions, one month subsequent, in June of 2002, we were approached by another national conservation group, a nonprofit, which, interestingly, seemed to have a lot of information about the discussions that had gone on previously, although they had been covered under confidentiality agreements. They offered to kind of be the intermediary to put something together to buy this ranch and ultimately hand it off to one or more public agencies when they were able to produce the funding.

We entered into agreements with that Conservation Fund, went through a six-month process, which included coming up with joint appraisal instructions. They agreed to purchase the property, if they did, based on the fair market value of the property, based on highest and best use appraisal standards, and that it was to be appraised based on development standards, not just on a thousand acres of rural property out on the fringe of town somewhere. They recognized that it was a different kind of property.

When the appraisers were commissioned and got started with their work, they came back with information to their principal that this was not a property that fit the prototype of the Southern Nevada land program in terms of acquisition. It wasn't a large rural property somewhere on the outskirts of town; it was right in the heart of Reno in the path of growth, and it was a property that was going to have significant value.

It was at that point that the conservation group terminated the process. We separated company over our objection. We wanted to continue with the process. That was terminated in December of 2002.

Notwithstanding all that, we've made a proposal to the City of Reno as part of our annexation request that upon annexation of the property, we would commit in a written agreement with the City that no applications for any type of development, rezoning, entitlements whatsoever would be applied for for a period of 12 months following annexation to provide —

We think we've exhausted all reasonable efforts to permit the public to buy this property, but we're still offering one last chance, not for the direct involvement with the Southern Nevada program, but if there are individuals or a conservation group that wants to spearhead an effort and they deal later with the federal program, we're giving it another 12 months after annexation for that to happen, and it would be based on fair market value, honestly negotiated between the parties, not based on what has been involved over the past two or three years, some parties in and out of government basically trying to force the sale of private property for public use without due process.

And what due process would really involve here, if that's what the public wants to do is to force the sale of this property for open space or for any kind of public use, is to use the powers they have under eminent domain or condemnation to acquire the property. At any point in the past three years the County could have used that to acquire the property. Apparently they haven't because they don't think they can provide the necessary public purpose or because they don't think they have the funds. They don't have the funds, frankly. That remains an option for them to consider. If they want to consider it, that's available to them under the law.

Some part of this property, the south half, has been subject to a tentative map application to Washoe County as of late last year. That process has not come to completion; it hasn't been approved or disapproved. We have suspended the action on that application pending determination of the annexation application and review of our other options.

Just to give you a brief description of it, it's a subdivision that would create 40 lots ranging in size from 5 to 40 acres on approximately 600 acres of property, so averaging about 15 acres per lot, low-density development, exactly what's permitted under the current County land use and zoning requirements.

We don't think that's ultimately the best use of the property. We think that you're all probably familiar with numerous articles in local papers and periodicals about the emerging shortage of land for residential development for Reno's growth. From an urban sprawl standpoint, it doesn't make sense to us. We don't think it should make sense to the City to hopscotch over this property or see it get developed with rural development only to see urban-suburban development happen somewhere south of Damonte Ranch or north of Spanish Springs or out in Verdi. It makes sense to grow from the core. This is a key thousand-acre infill site that could be vital to helping solve the fiscal equity problem that the City has faced with the County and of which you've heard much, I'm sure, over the last few years. It's an opportunity for the City.

Annexation itself isn't going to have an effect on value of the property if people are concerned about this public acquisition possibility. That isn't a proper consideration for the determination on annexation itself in any event, but annexation brings with it the current zoning entitlements and land use that the property has now. So there's nothing magic in annexation that immediately changes the value or drives up the price of the property. It's an opportunity to get the property into the City jurisdiction, ultimately for City review of planning and development applications.

Do we have a current plan to come in the day after annexation with a specific development plan? No, we don't. We've offered to hold off any applications for 12 months following annexation. We specifically decided to apply for annexation purely and simply on its own merits without confusing the issue of annexation with specific development plans of any kind. We know that any development plans on this property are going to engender a lot of emotion, a lot of interest, a lot of political pushing and pulling. That process can take its own course when development is proposed. It only confuses and exacerbates the issue of the annexation application if we were to come forward with plans at this point, and we do not have immediate plans for the property development.

There are ten criteria that the City has adopted that they're supposed to consider in cases of these voluntary annexations under the special state statute. We think that under all of those criteria there's a compelling case supporting annexation in this case.

Just to list them off quickly for you: Location of the property to be considered for annexation. We abut the city on three sides, city development on three sides, major ring road adjacent to the property.

Second, the logical extension of city limits. It's entirely logical to extend the city from adjoining properties where it's sitting now into this property.

The need for expansion to accommodate planned regional growth. There is a recognized shortage of property to accommodate the expansion of Reno. This is a key parcel that will permit that process to continue without being forced farther out into the outlying areas and contributing further to inefficient use of infrastructure and urban sprawl.

Related to that, the location of existing and planned water and sewer service. There's water and sewer community service available adjacent to the property currently. It's not like Verdi where an $8 million sewer line has to be extended out to the property for it to be developed.

Community goals that would be met by any proposed annexation. There are goals set forth in the City's mission statement on its own website which almost invariably track with support for annexation, and they I won't repeat all of them, but they have to do with efficient use of infrastructure, financial analysis, contribution to the tax base, economic development, et cetera, et cetera.

The efficient and cost-effective provision of service areas and capital facilities. What could be more efficient than expanding right next door to where the city services currently exist?

Fiscal analysis regarding the proposed annexation. Without any detailed analysis, I think it's obvious to anybody looking at this in an unbiased way, this is going to have huge positive economic ramifications for the City of Reno for this property to develop and to be within the city.

Whether the County has adopted a community management plan for the proposed annexation area. They have not.

Whether the annexation creates islands. It would not.

And any other factors concerning the proposed annexation deemed appropriate for consideration by the governing body of the City. We would submit that our offer to abstain and refrain from any development applications to provide one last chance for a public acquisition for 12 months after annexation is an appropriate additional factor for consideration.

Thank you for your time. I'd be happy to respond to questions, but I know there's other people who want to make comments.

CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: I'll start with questions from the board first. Anybody in particular?
MR. SMITH: (Inaudible.)
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Let's get the board questions. These aren't comments. These are questions from my board. Starting with Brad, please.
MR. LENCIONI: I'm looking at your plat map here. It's obvious that the parcel you're talking about has 1,019 acres, but there's also some other parcels down to the southeast of that parcel, C-2 and several others. Are they part of the ranch, too?
MR. NELSON: No. The ranch is 1,019 acres. There's a 200-some-acre parcel immediately to the south-southeast, which is a remnant of the original ranch retained by the sellers when my people bought.
MR. LENCIONI: Of that 1,019 acres, you were oing to take 600 acres out and develop between one unit to five units per acre -- no -- one unit --
MR. NELSON: The tentative map application that applies to that south 600 acres, which we don't think is the ultimate best development of the property, but it's a viable option for the owners, would be developed -- could be developed in 40 lots under the current zoning, ranging in size from 5 to 40 acres, and there's no shortage of folks in the Reno area who would be interested in those kinds of parcels.
MR. LENCIONI: I have a question for Toni. Is the City looking at this at all for purchase, or do you know if Washoe County is still interested in purchasing this property that you're aware of?
MS. HARSH: I've just been watching the things that come back and forth from our staff, and I know that the questions were significant to the developer about what their plans were and things like that, so --
MR. LENCIONI: But there's no interest to purchase --
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: The City itself purchase?
MR. LENCIONI: Well, I guess it was through the Parks Department or the bond, I guess.
MS. HARSH: That was with Washoe County. Washoe County has taken the lead on this.
MR. LENCIONI: Are they still interested, if you know?
MR. NELSON: We've heard nothing from them since May of last year.
MR. NELSON: Correct.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Thank you. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: The density you talked about along those 40 acres, 5 to 40 acres, now, if you bring it into the city, what is the density going to be then?
MR. NELSON: Upon annexation it comes into the city with the same exact zoning. There would have to be -- for any different density, there would have to be application for rezoning or redesignation of the property.
MR. SMITH: If it stays in the county, it stays like that forever. If it comes into the city, it comes in at one rate, but it could be raised, right?
MR. NELSON: It could be raised, right.
MR. SMITH: The density could be increased, because you said you didn't think this was the highest and best use. Then if you move it in, I don't quite understand, other than you're going to get higher density in there. That's your ultimate goal, right?
MR. NELSON: Annexation by itself doesn't change the density.
MR. SMITH: No, I know that.
MR. NELSON: But it permits the prospect for changing the density if that is something the City is interested in supporting. From a big-picture standpoint, we think the City should be interested in that to facilitate their future growth.
MR. SMITH: Why do you want to annex now with nothing planned?
MR. NELSON: Because we'd rather be part of the City of Reno governance and jurisdiction than Washoe County, and because we think it makes good, sound planning sense for this property, which is adjacent to the city on three sides, to become part of the city.
MS. ELLIS: Explain how being in the sphere of influence impacts your property. Does that come into consideration once you annex and does it -- I still don't understand this whole sphere of influence thing after the whole annexation program came on.
MS. HARSH: Going back to Brad's question, if there's people -- and, Mr. Nelson, perhaps you can correct me because I have a few other things on my plate, so some things get jumbled.
Currently all of Ballardini Ranch is currently under the complete control of Washoe County, but it is bisected by a sphere of influence. Am I correct on this?
MR. NELSON: Correct.
MS. HARSH: So it's all in Washoe County, but because of where the sphere of influence fell, half of it is within the sphere and half is without, and to be able to be annexed you have to be within the sphere.
MR. NELSON: Not necessarily.
MS. HARSH: Oh, that's correct because that gets into that Verdi thing.
MR. NELSON: But you're correct that roughly the north 420 acres of the property is in the sphere of influence and in the Truckee Meadows Services Area for community water and sewer, and it's also in the so-called annexation plan or program of the City of Reno, which expects that part of the ranch to be annexed into the city over a period of time.
So the way I'd look at it, and it may be simplistic, that being in the sphere, you're kind of preordained for annexation. It's --
MS. ELLIS: And it has a service connection to it as well?
MS. ELLIS: But that's it?
MR. NELSON: That's correct.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Is that your only question?
MR. DEWEY: Looking at the properties that are surrounding this parcel that you're talking about, would you say that the owner would feel very comfortable requesting the same kind of density that are on surrounding properties on his property?
MR. NELSON: I think that would be a reasonable expectation.
MR. DEWEY: If we were to look at the most densely populated areas of Caughlin Ranch, would you say that that would be the highest expectation?
MR. NELSON: I think the expectation is that densities similar to what the neighboring properties have would be appropriate on this property. I'm not trying to be evasive. There isn't a specific plan. It makes sense to try to match the edges of the property with what's adjoining from a density standpoint.
I should also point out that a significant portion of the west side of the property is adjacent to the national forest.
MR. ARRASCADA: With annexation to the city of Reno, would the property value be increased?
MR. NELSON: Not by itself. The property value is increasing by the day, by the year, just based on --
MR. ARRASCADA: But if it's annexed into the city and you're able to put more property, more dense property inside that location that is annexed in the city, would that property be valued more? Would it increase in value?
MR. NELSON: It could be, but annexation doesn't get you that increased density. Annexation just changes the jurisdiction. Whether there would be any change is up to the City and, in fact, up to the Regional Planning Governing Board because they're part of that process coming out of the Verdi annexation matter.
MR. ARRASCADA: So is that a yes?
MR. NELSON: It's a yes, but with clarification. Annexation itself should not raise the property value.
MR. ARRASCADA: Thank you.
MR. DEWEY: I have this very baffling question for Toni, which I'm sure she can't answer, but --
MS. HARSH: Don't ask me. I don't want to look stupid.
MR. DEWEY: It's a complicated question. I don't know if anyone can answer this, but I'm still trying to come to terms with whether it is beneficial to the City -- I mean, I know we get a bigger tax base and we have more people per acre, and we're paying taxes to the City and all that sort of thing. I'm still not sure we're growing very strongly. I'm seeing Somersett, this huge project, I'm seeing South Meadows, huge projects, I'm still hearing the City is broke. I don't understand what the benefit ratio is. Are we always going to not catch up and make up for all this? I don't know if we're getting a benefit from growth.
MS. HARSH: The major -- from what I understand, okay, in listening to this discussion as far as fiscal equity is concerned, for example, we did a roll-back on the sphere of influence in Washoe to -- back to Washoe County further down in our ward. Does this NAB remember that when we rolled back the sphere of influence? And the reason being is that residential is -- the providing of services to residential is expensive.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Is the most taxing on the --
MS. HARSH: It's the most taxing. It costs us the most.
MR. DEWEY: It costs us the most, okay.
MS. HARSH: And that's why the business is important.
To comment on that, this is one of the things that goes on with Washoe County and the discrepancy there, because of the need for them, for business, and that's where part of that argument is with fiscal equity and business and things like that.
MR. DEWEY: So are we going in the hole every time we're doing residential development? I mean, are we literally -- the more residential development that we take on, are we going to lose more money and never going to make it up?
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: You have property taxes to counter that, an income and an expense. Think of it that way.
MR. DEWEY: But, I mean, is anybody looking at that? I want to know what the fiscal responsibility of the City is to take on these kind of positions, because if it's -- if we're going to go broke eventually because we've got all these projects going on, then fiscally we should sit here saying, no, but we need to know. We need more information about the fiscal responsibility of that.
MS. HARSH: Yeah. And the person that is the best one to answer that is on vacation right now, and that's John Hester.
MR. DEWEY: But could we -- as criteria, I think we need to know those fiscal issues because it's one thing to have -- we're going to hear a lot of personal opinions, a lot of emotion, but we're really here fiscally responsible for things in a way, not that we are so much --
MS. HARSH: As a component.
MR. DEWEY: As a component. And we never hear about that, and I'm just --
MS. HARSH: To answer that, I think it's a good question. It's a very valid question.
MR. DEWEY: I'd like, the next time someone comes to the podium, to have those answers, because it's got to be a component of this conversation. I'm tired of it not being a component.
MS. HARSH: Good point.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Do I have any more questions from the board members? These are not comments, these are questions from my board, before I start with these public comments? Okay. Good.
I'm going to please request that you keep your comments to the three-minute limit that is required. Please make sure that you make your comments in general to the board, and I'm starting with Greta -- I apologize for mispronouncing names already -- Mestre. You were headed in the right direction, and you represent nobody? I would imagine you're representing yourself. You wish to make a statement, and you're in opposition.
MS. MESTRE: My name is Greta Mestre. I'm a resident out in South Reno off of Lakeside-Holcomb area, and I know there are others who will reiterate what I was going to say, so I'll let them who are more articulate than I go ahead and speak. I am very much opposed to this annexation. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: I think this is Stueben or Steven Walther. I'm sorry.

MR. WALTHER: Thank you. My name is Steve Walther, W-a-l-t-h-e-r, on behalf of myself and also on behalf of Protect Our Washoe. I've asked Mr. Rubenstein to hand out some material with respect to the history of the Ballardini Ranch. I'd like to speak on a factual basis only, except I'll start off saying that we're opposed to annexation.

The concept of placing the Ballardini Ranch in public hands for open space is nothing that just developed. It's been something that occurred over a long period of time, starting basically in 1983 when the first Land Use and Transportation Plan was adopted by the Southwest Truckee Meadows. At that time it was recognized that the foothills had significant value for habitat -- for habitat, for recreation and protection of the deer herds, and that plan recognized that.

As time went on, there were some major -- let's put it, tails to wag the dog in connection with that plan. One was Ballardini and one was the Redfield property. The Redfield property was the first to take the attention of everyone because they were the first to begin to do something with the property. When they began to develop the property, they recognized this issue, and even in 1983 when we were going through the Land Use and Transportation Plan with Redfield, it was agreed that they would essentially donate almost the equivalent of 2,000 acres or take that density and transfer it down toward the Mount Rose Highway and toward the central corridor and leave the open space open along the ridge, along the mountains.

This plan took -- more meat was put on the bones when ArrowCreek came on for a more specific development, and at that time they made a specific commitment to give, roughly, 14 or 1500 acres to the County for permanent open space and to link with the Ballardini Ranch.

I have a copy of -- I apologize for the smaller one, but this in this context should be pretty easy to see. This is the Ballardini Ranch in pink and this is looking north. This is part of the ArrowCreek development. This includes the ArrowCreek development, and this is a rough sketch of the property dedicated by ArrowCreek to link the Ballardini Ranch to provide essentially approximately 2500 acres from McCarran almost to the Mount Rose Highway for open space permanently and to protect the wildlife habitat.

ArrowCreek lived up to its word. They basically just finished the various stages and made dedications, I think, nearly all the dedications with the exception of maybe 100 or 200 acres, to the County, and that was completed within the last six months.

So basically this property here now links -- this whole big neck and along here links to the Ballardini Ranch, so one and two are critical to the long-term plan that's been in effect since 1983, 20 years ago, when I was on the Southwest Truckee Meadows Board myself, the very first one, and was active in developing this concept. It's not new. It's something that's been part of the priority and quality-of-life consideration for both the City and County since that period of time.

Now that ArrowCreek is on line -- and in the mid 1990s this was owned by the Ballardini family, who I grew up with and knew well myself, and there was not an issue there. It was a big beautiful ranch, and as long as they wanted to be there and have a ranch, that was great for everybody, but there came a time when they thought they had to sell it. I understand that maybe the feeling of urgency at that time was not as great as it turned out to be, but in any event, they entered into, as I understand it, an agreement, I believe, with Mr. Nelson's clients -- but it's not really important -- to sell it subject to zoning.

I'm told I have two minutes from Greta if you'll permit, and I'll try to speed it up a little bit.

In any event, they proposed 2000 homes at that particular time on that thousand-acre ranch. Mr. Nelson is inaccurate in one respect in connection with this 220-acre parcel owned by the Persigals. Angela Persigal is a member of the Ballardini family, and as I understand it, they still have rights to acquire that property as well. So you can't just look at this and say, well, we're just going to acquire this other 200 acres even though this is kind of a funny line for the City of Reno, to pick up right in the heart of the county without any further discussion about that.

I should also add that the sphere of influence is right here. It's this straight line that was drawn. Less is in the sphere of influence of the city than in the county, and now with this it certainly doesn't seem like it's the most appropriate line to go into the Forest Service, not City, Ballardini open space, down here, mostly county, and then the northern half, of course, does border the city, but they want to annex not only the part that's in the sphere of influence, but 600 acres that they just proposed for 39 lots in the county.

Now, the County told them, as I understand it, that they had to get water and sewer, and that application was suspended or pulled. One way to sneak in, get their nose under the tent is get the whole thing annexed and move the Truckee Meadows Services Area, if they can, to encompass the whole ranch.

When we went through this planning process 24 months ago with the Regional Planning Governing Board, they did agree to essentially a status quo in respect the County's efforts and the voters' decision to try and acquire the Ballardini Ranch, and they voted to leave the Truckee Meadows Services Area the same, meaning that in the plan that exists now and in effect, they do not recognize that there will be a need for city services in the next 20 years in the southern 600 acres.

So this is the effort to try and annex the ranch and not tell you much about what they're going to do when in the past all of the density, with the exception of the most recent one for 39 -- once they tried to get the top northern half for a thousand acres -- like I say, in '97 it was a thousand homes, 2,000 homes in this ranch.

We did an impact study on this when it came before the Regional Transportation Commission and showed that there would be roughly 20,000 trips per day, it would require a widening of McCarran and a widening of Skyline. These are all part of the fiscal analysis that you do not see here. These questions that are raised legitimately by the staff are not answered in any kind of detail. Certainly the fiscal analysis is not. And as I point out, it would be imagination of the first order to say that this is a smooth line down the City of Reno to try and encompass this whole place.

I'd like to go back briefly to the effort to acquire the ranch because I disagree with the position taken by Mr. Nelson.

When it became apparent that they pulled that 2000 -- that 2000-home application about an hour before the hearing in 1997, they then went in and bought the ranch without the zoning. That became apparent to us -- that was in the mid part of '98. It became apparent to all of us who were trying to protect the ranch that they are entitled to the money and it's time to start raising the money to buy the ranch.

We went to the County, and they said, we'll try and have -- we'll consider a bond issue. Ultimately they did, allocated $4 million for the acquisition of the ranch. The ranch was acquired by these people for eight and a half million dollars on March 11th of 1998, eight and a half million dollars. The County did get 59-percent voter approval to issue bonds for public acquisition of properties. And, by the way, a number of those properties for which they targeted with the money for that land has not been previously approved by the sellers either. These are properties that were on the wish list and the hope list of the Parks Commission and the County for acquisition. Ballardini Ranch was no exception. There was a number of properties, probably 10 or 15, that were not any willing-seller issue.

The voters approved that. That's not enough. We recognize that. So the County went to the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act and sought $15 million, and that ultimately, after study, was approved. $15 million in addition to the four, plus a ten percent override, meaning there would be 16 and a half million dollars plus four, that's 20 million and a half dollars that is now available for the acquisition of the Ballardini Ranch when they bought it for eight and a half million dollars in 1998. So to say we're not working, that is wrong. It's a consistent process.

Now, when we went before the Regional Planning Governing Board and asked for the status quo, not one person spoke against it on behalf of Ballardini Ranch. That was not an issue. What happened was that's the way the County voted, and that's the way the City approved it, the City of Sparks, to give the County the opportunity to acquire this land without tinkering with the zoning to upset the opportunity to acquire it by arguably increasing the price.

The issue came up with Mr. Nelson just now, does annexation here increase the price. Of course it does, because if it's improved, and not just the sphere of influence, but the whole ranch, there's an opportunity for three times the density, if you apply for it, than there is in the county. Three times the density. Money is density, and we all know that. So it would interfere terribly with the opportunity to acquire the ranch, and that is why the status quo was maintained and the City of Reno adopted its own resolution, a copy of which is in your packet, supporting the acquisition efforts by the County. And I'll read you two sentences, if I may.

"The City" -- this is September 18th of 2001.

"The City Council of the City of Reno hereby expresses its support by the acquisition of Washoe County of all or a portion of the Ballardini Ranch as open space for public use"

This is a planning priority that they've had formally since that date.

"And in addition, the staff of the City of Reno is hereby authorized to provide support to Washoe County in its efforts to seek funding for the acquisition of the Ballardini Ranch under the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act in partnership with other appropriate entities, such as the U.S. Forest Service, and to provide support as necessary for any of the grant applications with which the County may choose to pursue."

This is the current present policy of the City of Reno formally adopted by resolution, a copy of which is in your packet, the full text of that.

There is, in your packet, a proposed resolution for you to consider, and it's very much aligned, almost verbatim, with one that was adopted by the Central Neighborhood Advisory Board, Ward 2, not too long ago, and that particularly -- in that one they support the acquisition, they support the resolution that was adopted, and they ask for an ongoing moratorium from annexation.

In this particular -- and I'll take just a second, but there are some of these points that are raised here: The need for expansion to accommodate planned regional growth. That is contrary to the current plan. There's no plan for regional growth for the northern -- the southern 600 acres, and they have -- and they have not annexed the northern half, so there's been no showing in this application of the existence of that criterion. The location of existing and planned water and sewer services --

CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: You're way beyond your three minutes, and I have a stack, so please wrap it up.

MR. WALTHER: Do I have two more minutes from anybody?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER 1: You have my minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER 2: You can have mine.
MR. WALTHER: I don't need all that.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: You've already gone more than five. You've been up 15 minutes.
MR. DEWEY: In the interest of talking to the rest of the group here, what we've done in the past is, if there are people that have specific comments that they're going to make that are different than other people, then we would like to hear from those people. If there are people that are here that are just here to be yea or nay, we'd rather you make that comment as a group at some point, not go up to the podium, so that people like this who might be speaking more authoritatively can have more time.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: While you use the term "authoritatively," I would say informational.
MR. DEWEY: What I wonder if we might do is just exclude people that are just saying yea or nay.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: No. Everybody is allowed to get up and make their statement, but I still would like this gentleman to conclude it.
MR. WALTHER: May I have two minutes to wrap it up?

CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: If you're reading to us, I've got the information, I don't need you to read it to me.

MR. WALTHER: It is important for everybody to understand that that's the policy of the City of Reno, and that's the only reason I read it, but there's an ongoing -- we recognize that the owners of the Ballardini Ranch are entitled to a fair price, and it's our goal to get the best price you can get that they cannot reasonably turn down. We want -- we only think that's fair.

If there's a need to go and raise more money, we're told that there's a good opportunity under the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act to get it. There's nearly a half a million dollars of available money down south. And that's not so much the issue; it's the matter of bringing this together and letting the County conclude its efforts to appraise it, getting a feel for what they want to offer at this point. They have not been able to talk about acquisition until you've got 20 and a half million dollars, and at that point you're a serious person at the table.

The County has never said it doesn't intend to do anything but continue to try and acquire this as part of a 20-year-long effort.

One quick point, just in response as much as anything. We have had inconsistent voices on this. I'm not going to today dispute what Mr. Nelson says about the negotiating process, but I disagree significantly with it, but one thing is clear. Within the last 24 months, counsel for the applicant has publicly stated that all we need is the right price, so it's not been something like we won't do it, it's just a matter of the right price, and these people are here to make money, they're entitled to make it, but that is the reason.

I think the -- I have in your packet a formal study done by a Professor Tueller at the University of Nevada that points out two things: The Ballardini Ranch is critical to protect the deer herd, and ArrowCreek is insufficient to protect the deer herd without the Ballardini Ranch. They both need each other. If we want to protect the deer herd, we need both, and that's been the plan for 20 years, and there's a detailed professional study to support that contention.

Thank you for your time.


Moving right along, I have Vance Bell and Craig Bell, and they would like to make a statement in opposition, and I'll remind you, as my fellow board members have suggested, not request, not demand, but suggested that, please, with your comments, either add new additional information or merely state your opinion.

MR. BELL: We're pretty close to that property. We've had 105 acres. We divided out some, we sold 70, thank God, to a T. J. Day, who hasn't done anything with the 70 acres. He's going to maybe put one house on it. We put one house on ours. It's a beautiful area.

I mean, if you want to approve this thing, it's going to make me multis [sic] dollars, but that's not what this area is about. This is about the Truckee Meadows, this is about green, green area, and I'd ask your board, how many people have seen the Ballardini Ranch? Can you raise your hands? No, the board. Please raise your hands who's seen the Ballardini Ranch?
MR. BELL: Well, you know, I wouldn't even vote for these people without seeing the Ballardini Ranch because Rancho San Rafael, hell, it's a desert compared to this little valley. The only time you see it is when you're flying out on your trips. That's where you see this little green ranch. This is where you see -- we lived there for years. My dad took me up there in the winter. He had a horse on -- I'm sorry, I'm just upset.
There are deer on the ridge in the sagebrush coming out of the Ballardini Ranch. I call it Gaspari, old Ceasar Gaspari. That's what I know that ranch as, Ceasar Gaspari and what he did, and I'm sorry. If I got any extra time, I'll give it to Steve.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: No, you were right about three minutes.
Herb Rubenstein or Rubenstine, regarding the annexation, you'd like to make a statement in opposition.
MR. RUBENSTEIN: I'm Herb Rubenstein, 4005 Odile Court in Reno.
I believe that open space is a real priority for the people of Reno, most certainly was back in November of 2000 when Reno voters opted for open space and parks bond with a citywide approval rate of 58.7 percent. In fact, the bond carried with a countywide approval rate of 53.6 percent, and of the 63,103 people of the county that voted yes, 33,773 of them were Reno residents. Please oppose this. Thank you very much.
Tim, I've already heard from you so I don't need to --
Ginnie Kersey regarding this matter. She would like to make a statement in opposition.

MS. KERSEY: A wise man that was involved with the preservation of Rancho San Rafael -- I'm going to paraphrase it a little bit because I don't remember it exactly, but he said, "Concrete structures are a reflection of the economic prosperity of a community, but parks and open space are the indications of its character and way of life." And I really think that the outcome of WC-1 clearly defined the community's interest in our character and our way of life.

The current owners of this property clearly understood when they purchased it that it was not zoned for high-density development, and they were certainly informed of the public interest in protecting the ranch. My suggestion would be that the City of Reno designate the property that's in their sphere as open space, and I think that would be a very clear indication that they recognized what the voters of WC-1 in the year 2000 meant when they wanted to protect open space and develop parks.

Thank you.


Pardon me. I have one more. The number was wrong. I have Mike Robinson regarding the development, would like to make a statement in opposition.

MR. ROBINSON: Madam Chairman, members of the board, Councilwoman Harsh, my name is Mike Robinson for the record.

I'm President of Friends of Rancho San Rafael Park, but I don't speak today on their behalf, but this is a very similar situation to what transpired back when Rancho San Rafael Park was acquired. There were many, many developers that wanted that land to turn it into condominiums and homes and what have you, and a group of people headed by Clark Santini and Ginnie Kersey, who was just up here, got together and, through their efforts and a lot of other efforts of my own, we were able to get the PERS group, Public Employees Retirement System, to buy this ranch and hold it while the public voted to pass a bond to purchase it, which they did, and it took it off the table. It took it away from the developers at that time.

Unfortunately, that has not been able to occur in this particular situation, but the public has voted to support a bond up to $4 million for purchase of this property, the lands group has raised a considerable sum of money, and all intents are to purchase this for open space. Please vote no on this development and allow these people who have worked so hard to put this together to preserve this beautiful open space for our region. Thank you.


Okay. We are to the point, if I have no further -- I have no more on my table. Have I missed anybody? Does anybody want to quickly add their sheet in?
I'm going to go around, please, and ask for comments starting with Mr. Smith. Are you ready for a summation on your feelings?

MR. SMITH: I think this is a no-brainer, really. What you're looking at here is, as we said before, you're talking about something that, once it's gone, it's gone forever, and Rancho San Rafael is kind of a good example there.

I think you can't say that the individuals who are working -- that have got $20.5 dollars, that they're not earnest. That's pretty good earnest money, I would say. The other thing, too, is, they paid 8.5, so I don't know what the big hurry is to all of a sudden get it into the Reno sphere of influence, because if it went from 8.5 to 20.5, I guess it's appreciated pretty well. And I think they also said that they would pay the price of the appraisal.

So the big problem I have is when you increase that density by three times -- three times, it's really going to sock it in there. The other thing I have a problem with is one of the few times we've had this opportunity or -- I shouldn't say opportunity, but we've been faced with this is when the City of Reno has adopted a resolution, and it was unanimous, Harsh, Rigdon, Hascheff, Sferrazza-Hogan, Doyle, Aiazzi, Griffin and so on. That was done on the 13th day of September of 2001.

So the Neighborhood Advisory Board No. 2 also voted to leave it status quo, so I think, you know, we're going out into an area that's not where we want to go. Remember, you know, we can say, well, we're just doing this and that, but open space is something we want to preserve, and the minute we let it go for something else, then we've got to drive further and further away for open space, and it may be just like our little retaining walls where we have to see the mountains carved out of concrete so that we can see what's going on, and I think, you know, we just have to really take a look at it. I mean, it's really -- money is important, but, really, open space and the environment, this is why we're here, this is what we're trying to protect, and that's why a lot of people live here. If we mess it up, you know, then we've got a real problem, so that's my feeling.

MR. LENCIONI: Well, I certainly also would like to see that kept as open space. However, the developer, the owner of that property does, you know, have his right to develop the property. However, I disagree with the presentation when he said it wouldn't change the value of the property if they were annexed to the city. I believe it would change the value of the property, and I think it would increase it to a point where it might be difficult to purchase that property for open space, so I would like to at this point not be in favor of annexation, to allow some of these other groups to get the money available to purchase the property.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Do you have a time limit or anything on that that you'd like to see?
MR. LENCIONI: You know, I don't have a time limit. I'd like to ask him -- is the presenter here -- how long he thinks it would take?
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Mr. Nelson? Oh, the gentleman, Steuben, Mr. Walther, Steven.
MR. WALTHER: I think it's very hard to predict. It depends to a large degree on the ability to communicate with Mr. Nelson's clients, but I think it is possible that, with a reasonable target, to make enough headway to get the funding and, if need be, not just from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, but it is quite possible to go back and get money there. Remember, there's a federal statement of interest for the Forest Service to be a part of this.
MR. LENCIONI: Are we looking at a year, two years? Your opinion, what do you think it would take?
MR. WALTHER: I hate to approximate. It really depends whether you communicate very well on this issue, so I do think that the time frame -- if we're talking about 24 months, that's probably reasonable, although -- it would certainly be possible to find out what reasonable values are in that period of time and hopefully make some headway, but I wouldn't want to suggest that that's the date that I'd be even recommending. I don't think that's before this entity anyway, but --
MR. NELSON: Can I respond to that same point, briefly?

MR. NELSON: I thought that's who you were calling up here in the first place, the applicant.

We've made the offer, as I indicated, to not do anything with the property in terms of applications for 12 months after annexation. That should be adequate time, if there's a serious effort amongst people who really want to buy the ranch and have the money, to do that.

I have to ask, though, is it reasonable to add another 12, another 24, another 36 months on top of the three and a half years that have gone by when the County in the first instance waited almost a year to even contact us after the bond issue passed? That doesn't seem reasonable. How would you feel if this was your house and the City wanted to buy your house for a road access or something, and they said it was high priority, but they didn't even call you to discuss it for ten months? It's kind of ridiculous, really, and I think the County's whole approach to this has bordered on the ridiculous throughout. Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Brad, your comments, please. I'm sorry. Steve, Mr. Pottenger.
MR. POTTENGER: I guess I'm, so far, with the board. I'd like to see it -- you know, give the conservation groups a chance to purchase the property, but I would -- I think it is important that they are communicating. You know, don't wait ten months before you do respond. So, yeah, if communications happen, let's give these guys a chance to purchase the property.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Would you like to add a time limit or any sort of -- regarding -- you've already heard they have none.
MR. POTTENGER: It is hard to put a time limit on there, you know, if they're communicating. No time limit.

MR. DEWEY: I think it's really a complex issue, and I'm not really sure that because of where it lies that it's going to be difficult for the City to resist annexing that property.

So I have two thoughts. One is, I think there needs to be a compromise between the owner of the property and the people that want to save that area, and I think there also needs to be a study that might show what the wildlife conditions are in terms of the deer migration.

I think -- I think mainly there needs to be a compromise because I know how long it takes to acquire property through public access and raising funds, and I think that that's going to be a long process, and it's very hard to pull all that together.

So I'm hoping that somehow there can be a study that shows what of this ranch is actually very valuable to the wildlife and try to somehow continue that branch of horizontal run of property, but at the same time realize that biting off this whole ranch and trying to purchase that may be unrealistic.
So I would, first of all, call for more conversation between the owners and the people that are surrounding this property that are interested in it, wanting to protect it, and try to reach some compromise of some portion of that property being worked on together. I'm not sure, if we don't -- if the City does not annex the property, that it will be protected. I think that if they could even develop it as a county parcel, that may be what happens. So there's kind of an inevitability of that being developed as just a very valuable piece of property for many reasons.

So I would like to see it as an open area, but at the same time, let's be realistic and understand that -- for instance, I believe, Tim, that actually the San Rafael Ranch, that there are actually parcels that were donated by various people to actually pull that together, that people actually owned parts of San Rafael Ranch and actually donated that property. They actually owned it to begin with.

MR. ROBINSON: There was no donation of that property.
MR. DEWEY: The Thorntons didn't own part of that property?
MR. ROBINSON: That was after Rancho San Rafael was bought, purchased. Later the Thorntons bought an additional parcel north and donated that to the County.
MR. DEWEY: These people should know that there were parcels that were bought by other people.
MR. ROBINSON: Later on, 10 years, 15 years later.
MR. DEWEY: It's a long process. I think we have to be realistic about that. It sounds very exciting to get involved in that, but you all are going to get very tired after a while of trying to pursue this. I think if you don't reach a compromise, we're not going to be able to save it.

MS. ELLIS: Good Lord. For me, this is a property rights issue. This is a little scary because actually before he made that comment I wrote down, "How much time is reasonable to allow a public interest to acquire a property?"
The inclusion of Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act funds concerns me because of the reality of the political prioritization of the money, and there's a reason it's called the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

And this process, they acquired it in 1998, the efforts have been underway -- by the public underway to acquire this property for at least three years, and where are we? We had a conservation group, unnamed -- I can only imagine who it is -- that backed out of this. Yes, we did have a bond that passed, but it was only for half of the paid price in 1998.

I mean, there's -- I'm concerned that we're going to get to a point -- at what point do we make kind of the rubber hit the road and show me the money happens and we go one way or the other on this thing? And what's in front of us today is the annexation request. It's not about what would happen on this property, and we are given kind of guidelines, and annexation really doesn't change anything in terms of density.

So do I have an opinion whether or not it's in the county or it wholly becomes under the sphere of influence of the city and comes into the city? To me, on paper it doesn't change anything, and like I said, it's a property rights issue as far as I'm concerned, and at some point -- these people are paying taxes on this property, and they have a right to be able to recoup some costs of their investment one way or the other.

I would hope for a compromise, but it's been a long time, and that's kind of where I stand on it.


MR. ARRASCADA: I'll make this really quick.

The property was purchased for approximately -- I don't know how many years ago, three and a half years ago -- 1998, six years ago, five and a half, six years ago. The property was purchased for $8 million, approximately. It's now up on the table for 20 point some odd million dollars. Regardless if you have annexation or not annexation, if you just sit on it, the property value is going to increase, and the longer they wait, the higher they increase the property, the property is going to increase in value. It's a win-win situation for you.

I'm opposed to annexation, and I agree that the individuals who should -- who are in the process or in the communication process or who should be in the
communication process should accelerate the process, come to a reasonable conclusion and get it done.

CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Well, you all made some very good comments and some succinct statements. I'm going to probably just really throw it away.
I'm in favor of the annexation, but I'm kind of with Mr. Dewey, I'd like to see a compromise. When I look at a map and I see a line, I kind of see that that portion that's in the sphere right now of Reno is probably the only portion that really should be considered for annexation. We haven't been given that opportunity. So in that case, then, no, you can't really annex the entire piece. However, I'm also in agreement with Miss Ellis; if it's your land, it's yours and you're paying taxes on it, you should be able to do exactly what you want with it as long as you're not going to blow up things and people along with it.

The thing that I see -- and I like open space, but not as much as most people. If you can see it from the sidewalk, it's close enough. It's one of those things that, to me, if there's an offer -- I've still not heard that we have a seller and a buyer, and I've owned a lot of property in my lifetime and done a lot of real estate transactions. If somebody doesn't say -- I haven't heard that the seller is willing to sell it for 20 million. I've heard there's about 20 million being gathered, and I've heard that the current owners paid eight and a half for something that, you're correct, the public came up with four million. So so far, you know, I haven't heard somebody say, we're offering you 15 mil, and the owner goes, no way, we want this. I haven't heard of any kind of negotiations in real terms, and until you offer me money, I'm going to try and get to a place where I can take that and deal with it. If I'm not dealing well with the County, then let me pull it into the city.

So, again, it's like Miss Ellis says, it really doesn't have any point on the value, it doesn't have any point on the density. What it has is, who do I get to deal with. I'm having problems dealing with who I'm dealing with now; maybe I'll have better luck over here. Of course, there's always the comment, be careful what you wish for, because you may not be happy dealing with the City of Reno either.

But at the same time, looking at a map, I can't see the City of Reno annexing the entire thing because it doesn't fit. One portion, the 400 and some odd acres does, the other 600 doesn't. So in reality, for this particular package as shown, I'm not in favor.

MR. ARRASCADA: Would you ask the rest of the board, is there a time frame? Is there a time frame for purchase? Yes, there is an immediate time frame, and it needs to be done, it needs to be done. It must be done efficiently.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Efficiently, quickly, now. And I think regardless of whether or not the owners are willing to wait 12 months, you know, all this time out there, somebody needs to offer these people some money, and somebody needs to start negotiation.
MR. ARRASCADA: I mean, this gentleman has been sitting there for months, years.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: He's way more patient than me.
MR. ARRASCADA: Way more patient. And that's with Washoe County. You have a $4 million bond that's been sitting in the bank. Who knows if it's appreciating, depreciating, what's going on with that. Something needs to be done.
MR. DEWEY: Can we get a hand count of the attendance, of people here who are in opposition to the annexation.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Only if you count them.
There's been a request by one of my board members to please have a show of hands -- one hand only, dear -- that are in opposition of annexation.
And now may I have a count of people who are in favor of annexation.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Do I have any more comments to my board?
MR. SMITH: What's the numbers?
MS. HARSH: What were the numbers?
MR. DEWEY: I counted 22 in opposition and 4 in support.
If you're planning on exiting, please do it quietly like a little church mouse, because we are continuing our meeting.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Do you have a question or a comment?
MR. NELSON: I'd just like to thank you for your input. We appreciate it and the opportunity to come here, and I wanted to remind you that we will be going to the other ward, Ward 2 NAB and the Southwest Truckee Meadows CAB in the near future as well.
MR. DEWEY: Can we explain to people here our actual standing?
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: We're not allowed any action. Actually, let's have our councilperson tell us since they're the ones that have tied our hands so perfectly.
MS. HARSH: Actually, it was not council action that did that.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: Was it legal of our City Council?
MS. HARSH: It was the Nevada Revised Statutes. It was your State Legislature that did this.
MR. DEWEY: So essentially the Nevada State Legislature does not authorize boards of this type to take on voting kind of participation into the government. Only boards such as zoning and planning boards can take on that kind of action.
MR. ARRASCADA: Although, Mr. Dewey, our opinions and everything that is written down here are taken into high consideration and looked upon quite favorably, or however you'd like to look upon it, are looked at quite stringently and are taken into great consideration by the community, by the Planning Commission and by the powers that be.
CHAIRPERSON COLLINS: In other words, our opinion counts maybe a little more than yours, but, really, what matters is that you all continue to get involved all the time, come to our meetings even when you don't have something, watch the website, look at what's on the agenda, get involved in your government, please. Thank you.

(The item discussion concluded at 8:01 p.m.)


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