WARM SPRINGS, WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA
Features named for warm springs in the region are a valley east of Warm Springs Mountain, south of Winnemucca Valley and west of the Virginia Mountains, between Sparks and Pyramid Lake in Washoe County.
A HISTORY OF WARM SPRINGS VALLEY
Originally, Warm Springs Valley was open range with several cattle ranches operating on private and Bureau of Land Management lands. In the 1960s, the United States government bought out or relocated private ranches and deeded the land to Rocketdine to test rocket engines for the Apollo Lunar exploration project. After the successful moon landing, the property was sold to the McCulloch Corporation who planned to build a complete community. It was designed as a ‘wheel’ with high density and commercially zoned properties at the hub and progressively lower density properties at the rim of the wheel. The Washoe County Commissioners vetoed the plan because they wanted the growth for the city of Reno. The McCulloch Corporation then subdivided the land into 40-acre and larger parcels. As per state of Nevada law, these parcels could be sold without the approval of the county commissioners.
In the late 1980s, a group of large property owners approached the (new) county commissioners with a plan for a higher density subdivision. After years of discussion, an agreement was reached and the Specific Planned Area (SPA) was created.
Warm Springs (Palomino) Valley consists of four distinct areas: Commercial agricultural, 40-acre and larger residential parcels/hobby farms, the Specific Planned Area (SPA) with 2.5-acre lots, and the Winnemucca Ranch project suggested by the Locnavar Corporation. Commercial agricultural consists of cattle ranching, chicken ranching, turf farming, tree farming, hay fields, orchards, bee-keeping, and other forms of commercial agricultural endeavors. The 40-acre and larger parcels include a plethora of hobby (noncommercial) activities such as personal antique auto restoration and storage, glider port and other private airport facilities, small personal gardens, horse related activities, poultry raising, 4-H projects, hog and cattle raising for personal use, storage and use of heavy equipment for maintenance of private property (including use of this equipment for constructing and maintaining driveways and firebreaks), permitted small-scale home based businesses such as beauty salons, bed and breakfast housing, light excavation and grading, farriers (horse shoeing), dog boarding kennels, veterinarian services, and small-scale janitorial and landscaping operations such as window washing and other cleaning services as well as lawn care services, to name a few examples of small family-based operations that do not impact or effect in any way traffic or environmental concerns within the valley.
As stated, the SPA consists of smaller lots of 2.5-acres. Due to the smaller size of these parcels, activities for these residents are more limited in scope. The SPA has specific boundaries and is surrounded by 40-acre and larger parcels.
The Winnemucca Ranch project presented by Locnavar would be a planned community, which for some reason, as yet unexplained, is under consideration to become a part of Reno as an island community of that city despite the fact it is over 20-miles away from Reno city limits. It should, instead, be considered as part of the Warm Springs Valley Area Plan because it is located in Warm Springs Valley and because its development would greatly effect Warm Springs Valley far more than it would the noncontiguous city of Reno.
Some of the main concerns expressed by the landowners of Warm Springs Valley include the preservation of our present, rural style of life, zoning changes that could manifest as taking away private property options currently in place, and the orderly development of the valley without spot-zoning. Other property owners have expressed a desire to subdivide their parcels into smaller lots.
In an effort to preserve the present life style and attributes of this valley, most of the property owners of Warm Springs Valley bought 40-acre and larger parcels as well as 10-acre parcels in the SPA. These people want to pursue their various hobbies and they prefer to maintain the seclusion of living at a distance from their neighbors. It is of considerable concern to these people that if they are to become surrounded by smaller lots, their lives and dreams will be tarnished, if not completely destroyed. In a perfect world, the smaller lots would be contained in the center of a circle with lots becoming progressively larger as they advance outward from the circle. It is not to late to adopt this concept in our area plan. The original concept offered by the McCulloch Corporation called for such a plan.
After surveying opinions of many of my fellow property owners in Warm Springs Valley, we know and have accepted that growth will inevitably come to our valley. However, we have also come to realize that a mechanism for proceeding with growth without destroying the present qualities of our valley that have afforded us our cherished life styles is vitally important. We submit that any dividing of lots into smaller parcels, creating a higher density community, should be progressive and contiguous to parcels of equal or smaller size. The SPA has already been established and could serve as the hub, or base, from which larger parcels can emanate.
Another major concern of the property owners of Warm Springs Valley is the matter of their representation on the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB). If the SPA and the Winnemucca Ranch project were to build-out to the extent allowed, these areas would contain disproportionally higher density communities within the valley, the 40-acre and larger parcel property owners could find themselves with little or no voice in governmental processes and could become subjected to damaging laws that pertain to their lands.
Currently, foremost in the minds of many property owners of Warm Springs Valley who own 40-acre and larger parcels, is the major concern that there are constant efforts by some county staff to force city rules and nuisance ordinances onto their large, rural parcels. This is not appropriate nor applicable. These ordinances may be applicable to trailer parks, small lots less than an acre, and urban environments, but they are not appropriate for the land in Warm Springs Valley, which has a combination agricultural and rural residential zoning designation. A suggestion to resolve future zoning discrepancies between the 40-acre and larger parcels in the valley and the smaller parcels currently within the SPA as well as for the projected future parcels of various sizes contained within the Winnemucca Ranch proposal would be to establish a grandfather clause within our valley’s area plan to allow for noncompliance of new zoning ordinances, thus exempting existing 40-acre and larger parcels from all zoning changes.
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