RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - It's been nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster for residents who live near University Ridge in north Reno, where plans for a controversial rock crushing plant were first approved by the planning commission, then rejected unanimously by the Reno City Council on appeal.
Now the company, C4 Equities, is hoping to subdivide the land into separate parcels. The Reno Planning Commission denied a use permit for that process at a meeting last month, but then city staff overruled the planning commission. The staff citied a state law which it says prohibits city government from considering more than basic grading and utilities when reviewing a request to subdivide property. Translated, you can't vote on a use permit before a specific use is requested.
"They just wasted all of our time by saying we made a mistake," said resident Tom Bell.
Instead city staff will simply draw up the new map on their own. That means what was an official vote by the planning commission to halt the development, basically never happened.
"We thought we were all done but somebody just threw another wrench in the works", said resident Noelle Nash.
Reno's planning and engineering manager Claudia Hanson says this is the first time she can recall an official vote being nullified.
Hanson insists this issue is not an embarrassment for the city.
"I think that its good that we've caught it where it is. We will move forward and correct the code," she told News 4.
Residents who gathered recently at a neighborhood park say this latest chapter in their on-again off-again battle with city hall has caused them to lose confidence in city staff. And they're beginning to question their motives.
"Basically we think city staff is conspiring with the company. And taking away the civil rights of the citizens of reno," said Tom Bell.
But Claudia Hanson insists the city is doing it's best to be fair to everyone involved in the process. And she says this latest hiccup, while unfortunate, will not change that.
News 4 asked Hanson if people should still have full confidence in the planning commission ?
"Definitely," she said. "They always do a thorough job of researching the projects."
On Tuesday, August 13th, a hearing officer sided with the city in ruling a special use permit is not required for a parcel map subdivision. While the decision validates the staff's decision, it also reaffirms the issue should never have come before the planning commission in the first place.