A crowd of west-side residents persuaded the Pahrump (Nev.) Regional Planning Commission June 9 to unanimously reject a plan to construct a 620-site recreational vehicle park with recreational park trailers on the southwest corner of Barney Street and Betty Avenue.
Rockingham Realty Nevada 2 LLC requested the rezoning of 60 acres from rural homestead to mixed use for the development. The company also requested a major master plan amendment and conditional use permit, according to the Pahrump Valley Times.
The RPC had reviewed proposed development standards for recreational park trailers in the zoning code. The board considered the development at a March 10 meeting, but continued the item until Rockingham Realty representatives could host a neighborhood meeting June 2 at the Bob Ruud Community Center.
That neighborhood meeting failed to still some complaints. Seven people came to the microphone to voice concerns. Commissioners were also given a petition in opposition, signed by 130 people.
“The potential to become a blight on this community is incredible,” neighbor Lois Mills said.
Mills said the project was tabled so the developers could address issues about density. The only change was coloring the green spaces to make them stand out, she said.
“It’s still too dense to be placed next to a low density housing area. Where’s the buffer?” Mills asked.
She also criticized plans called for 12 acres of commercial development.
“We lived 40 years in Las Vegas. We moved out here to get away from the lights, the inconvenience of all the noise and we wanted some peace and quiet in our elderly years,” Shirley Jewell said.
She said there would be too little visitor parking.
“I have spoken to practically all the people in this neighborhood. Not one of them is in favor of this zoning change. They all want to keep the zoning the way it is,” Harold Jewell said.
He questioned where the water would come from.
“We purchased this property to get away from the congested, overcrowded, cookie-cutter development. This area was all zoned RH 4.5 and was designated on the master plan as low density development. We believed it would provide a quiet, rural setting where we could raise animals,” Christine Leason said.
She estimated 620 units would translate into 6,237 vehicle trips per day.
County planner Steve Osborne said they estimate 10 vehicle trips per day per resident. But RPC member Mark Kimball said that’s for a single-family resident. The intention of this development is to provide facilities for residents that may keep them on the site, Kimball said.
Dave Richards, from CivilWise Services, representing Rockingham Realty, said there’s a lot of open space, with a common area and a yard around each unit. It is intended as an age-restricted community for people 55 years and older, Richards said.
“Pretty much all the amenities an RV park will provide, but this is intended for an extended stay. There will be no campers, motorhomes allowed on the site. They’re specifically park models which are like a little cottage, a small home intended for one or two people,” Richards said.
Issues regarding traffic, drainage and landscaping will be addressed in the design phase, Richards said. A six-foot, decorated, block wall with landscaping on the outside shouldn’t interfere with neighbors’ views of the mountains, he said.
But Richards admitted: “You drive around Pahrump, you look at RV parks that have been put in, they tend to turn into dives or slums.”
But Richards said the lots will be owned by the company and rented or leased to occupants. He said the company intends to have a strict set of requirements.
Kimball noted the same developer outlined plans for the Beverly Park planned unit development, approved in September 2007, in which Rockingham Realty planned to build 864 two-story condominiums on 72 acres across the street. That project was to include amenities like a senior center, a medical center, gas station and golf cart paths.
Marianne Barrett noted that PUD has a three-year time limit, set to expire this year.
“Mr. Richards says that proposed development is going to share facilities with Beverly Park development across the street. I might point out that development does not exist,” Leason said.
Kimball suggested cutting down the density by downsizing the project. He thought 350 RV units would be a more appropriate number.
Kimball said he was originally excited about the Beverly Park project.
“I suspect part of the reason that (rezoning) is about to expire is the difficulty we have in this valley with infrastructure. The cost to bring the promised utilities to that project is probably astronomical at this point,” Kimball said.
RPC member Carrick “Bat” Masterson said he didn’t have a problem with the project, it was the location, too far from the center of town.
“It’s in a rural area and that’s my problem. These people do have the right to the type of life they wanted,” Masterson said.
RPC member Nevada Tolladay said it was nice to have development in tough times, but it’s his belief not all development is good development.
RPC member Norma Jean Opatik felt the 55 and older crowd was more active than proponents said.
“You’re going to have much more activity in this community than what’s being presented,” she said.
Opatik said she anticipates Rockingham Realty requesting an extension of time to develop Beverly Park.
“When people bought property and they see the master plan, they anticipate that master plan will stand,” Opatik said.
Millions of dollars invested in the Hyatt Lake Resort in southern Oregon are on the line as park model cabin owners fear the fallout from a recent ruling by a Jackson County hearings officer.
At the same time, the owner of the resort, Bob McNeely, filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 30 for Nor’wester Industries Inc. of Washington, the company that built the cabins, which McNeely describes as recreational vehicles, according to the Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore.
On Oct. 13, McNeely filed an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) over the Jackson County hearings officer’s decision that finds the county planning department erred when it allowed 22 units on the property in the first place.
Owners of the cabins, who have agreements to rent them out for $150 or more a night, now are worried about their $150,000 to $200,000 investment, and the fear has spread to nearby Campers Cove, where another 25 units have been installed. Most of the owners live in Jackson County.
“I think everybody is pretty stressed out and concerned,” said Robin Schooler, who owns one of the small cabins at the Hyatt Lake Resort.
The Bonanza resident said her dismay about the situation is directed more at surrounding Greensprings property owners who appealed Jackson County’s approval of a limited expansion of the resort.
Hearings officer Donald Rubenstein concluded that small cabins referred to by the resort owner as recreational vehicles are, in fact, dwellings that potentially pose a fire danger for the resort and the surrounding forest.
He said the resort 20 miles east of Ashland resembles a high-density residential development with some units only 7 feet apart.
Rubenstein concluded county planners erred in allowing 22 of the cabins at the resort. He rejected a request to add an additional 13 spaces.
Schooler said her husband, Michael, helped Bob McNeely’s brother, Don, log some of the trees on the property.
“The whole situation for us is kind of sad,” she said. “My husband and Don McNeely are best friends. We’re not letting any of this come between us.”
Still, Schooler is worried about receiving a percentage of the rent from her cottages that goes back to August, particularly with property taxes now owed. “That’s pretty upsetting,” she said.
Despite the lack of rent collected from tenants who have stayed in her cabin, Schooler said she and her husband continue to make the payments for the park model and lease of the property from Campers Cove.
Schooler said McNeely told cabin owners that filing an appeal with LUBA would buy an extra 12 to 14 months before any action could be taken to remove the park models.
“We don’t want to lose our cabin,” she said. “We don’t want to lose the resort.”
McNeely said he’s ready to fight any attempts to shut him down.
“I will go to my grave resolving it,” he said.
He said millions of dollars now are tied up in the project, his line of credit has been canceled and his company, Nor’wester, has been shut down and its 105 employees have been laid off. He said he’s also laid off more than 30 employees at the resort. So far, he said he has spent almost $150,000 in legal fees.
As a result of the publicity, McNeely said he has received 57 cancellations at his resort, but disputed claims he is behind in payments to cabin owners.
He blames both the Greensprings neighbors and the county, which gave him the permits, for the situation that threatens his livelihood.
With the economy in such a slump, he said he doesn’t understand why his efforts to clean up the resort and make things better in Jackson County have been battered by local government.
“Honest to God, I feel I’m in a communist country,” he said.
If the state does rule against him, he said it would lead to closing other facilities in Oregon that have similar types of recreational vehicles. He cited, in particular, Howard Prairie and Lake of the Woods.
In addition, McNeely said cabin owners likely will sue him, and he will sue the county if the hearings officer’s decision is upheld.
McNeely said the records on his property seem clear. He said he is entitled to 65 recreational vehicle spaces, but only wanted to use 35.
“I didn’t build any sites there,” he said. “They were already there.”
He said he received septic licenses from the Jackson County Health Department for 35 sites.
In the hearings officer’s decision, McNeely said he sees the potential to try to shut down nearby Campers Cove.
He said there is a lot of misinformation, particularly about the cabins, which he said are clearly designated and designed as recreational vehicles.
While McNeely struggles to keep his resort going and fend off the county, he said he has noticed local government agencies continue to improve parks and have even proposed an aquatic park in Medford.
“The county owns all of the recreation in the county,” he said. “It’s a real crying shame what our country has come to.”
Sandy Speasl, a member of the neighborhood group Southern Oregon Citizens for Responsible Land Use Planning, said she understands why the cabin owners blame her group. “They have to blame somebody,” she said.
But, she said, other landowners have been forced to adhere strictly to county regulations, so she said all her group is asking is the resort adhere to the same rules.
“The whole reason we did this is so the county would give everybody equitable treatment, and so that they would obey the laws that are set up,” she said.
Speasl said the hearings officer’s decision is appropriate, even if it means the cabins would have to be removed.
“I think the hearings officer was pretty clear on that,” she said. “They are not allowed.”
Talent resident Felicia Hazel said she and her husband are very concerned about the investment they’ve made at Hyatt Lake Resort.
“We got into it as a rental, and that rental would pay for itself, and it hasn’t even come close to that,” she said. “As far as what happens next, I’m not sure.”
Hazel said she hasn’t yet received the rental income from August, though she continues to make lease payments on the land.
She said most of the value of buying into the resort is in placing the cabins on the wooded property a short distance from the lake and just off Hyatt Prairie Road.
“The value is gone if we have to remove the park model and the hot tub,” she said.
Hazel said she looked at Whaleshead Beach Resort, also owned by McNeely, before making the purchase, and she and her husband were impressed.
Because of the uncertainty, Hazel said, “We need to take a look at what our options are to protect ourselves.”
Phoenix resident Fred Riffle owns a cabin at Campers Cove, and he’s worried the land-use problems from Hyatt Resort could become a problem for him.
“It’s just going to be a complete loss of investment if the county and whoever has their way,” he said.
Riffle, 68, said he was counting on the income from the rental of his cabin to help him with his retirement.
He expects to call McNeely to ask him about the back rent in the near future, but wants to give McNeely ample time to resolve the situation.
“We’re not going to bug him,” he said. “He needs all the time he can get to defend himself.”