Proposed Easement at Hidden Valley Park

July 3, 2024
HV Park Easement Map

An easement agreement, a water tank, and Hidden Valley. Where do you fit in?

by Candee Ramos, Washoe County Community Outreach Coordinator

Questions about a proposed easement exchange agreement between Washoe County’s Hidden Valley Regional Park and privately held Sunny Hills Ranchos have arisen within the Hidden Valley community. What better way to provide the information that you can count on than from the source itself?

We went to Washoe County Park Planner Faye-Marie Pekar for a Q&A to help explain what has already taken place, what is next, and what the proposed easement exchange agreement could mean for the Hidden Valley community.

Q:  To make a long story short, what is this all about?
There is a proposed easement exchange agreement for a Hidden Valley neighboring private landowner, Sunny Hills Ranchos, to provide Washoe County a facilities easement for a water tank pipeline over their private property that would connect to a planned water tank located at Hidden Valley Regional Park. In exchange for allowing Washoe County this easement for the tank pipeline, Sunny Hills Ranchos is asking Washoe County to assist in determining if access to their property is feasible over Hidden Valley Regional Park due to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Nevada State Park deed restrictions currently in place. Should it be feasible, Sunny Hills Ranchos may choose to develop homes on the land they own; currently the number of homes is being discussed as four to five properties.

The easement exchange agreement language does not provide a guarantee that Sunny Hills Ranchos will obtain an access easement to their property; it is a good faith effort agreement that Washoe County Parks staff will contact the BLM and Nevada State Parks on behalf of Sunny Hills Ranchos to see if removing the deed restrictions is feasible. Currently, we do not know if the access Sunny Hills Ranchos is requesting is feasible until we are able to have further communication with BLM and Nevada State Park staff and provide required documentation.

Q:  In the past, residents of Hidden Valley have spent time in meetings with Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space personnel regarding updates and improvements in the park, but I don’t recall hearing about this proposed easement exchange easement. Why not?
While the construction of the proposed water tank may seem like a new development, this is a project that has been in the works for years and previously received community feedback. The tank project, and the associated facilities easement, is a continuation of the outreach that Washoe County conducted in 2021 and 2022 with the Hidden Valley Homeowners Association and the surrounding Hidden Valley neighborhood as part of the finalized and adopted 2022 Hidden Valley Regional Park Master Plan. With the Master Plan for Hidden Valley Regional Park completed in 2022, public outreach for the tank project was also finalized at that time. Public input and feedback during the master plan efforts were in favor of the construction of a new water tank.

Prior to the tank’s incorporation into the 2022 approved park master plan for Hidden Valley, the Open Space and Regional Parks Commission approved staff to apply for permitting to construct the water tank and associated infrastructure in February 2021. The “associated infrastructure” includes the necessary facilities easement. The permitting process included discussions with Sunny Hills Ranchos to allow Washoe County to perform geotechnical and survey work for the tank’s pipeline and eventual permanent facilities easement provided by Sunny Hills Ranchos to Washoe County for the tank pipeline infrastructure. During these conversations, Sunny Hills Ranchos proposed the concept of obtaining access to their parcels over Hidden Valley Regional Park to their property.

Q:  How will this proposed tank and easement agreement benefit me as a Hidden Valley resident?
This proposed tank serves a community-wide benefit, allowing the Hidden Valley Regional Park to utilize recycled water for irrigation and development of new park amenities that can come to fruition now that a recycled water source is about to be in place.

Q:  Currently Sunny Hills Ranchos is land-locked, and any entrance to Sunny Hills properties by the extension of the park road may cause concern for additional traffic or disruption to residents on West Hidden Valley Drive and Mia Vista Drive. What traffic impacts would the extension of the park road have in the easement exchange plan?
The proposed access road for the residential lots will be private, recognizing the reduced access width will not meet Washoe County Development Code requirements for a public right-of-way. The traffic loading from the proposed four to five residential lots would not trigger a traffic impact study, as there is no significant impact to Washoe County’s road system.

Q:  I have heard about Washoe County’s Neighborhood Development HUB and that proposed developments are supposed to host community meetings early in the development process. Were we notified of this plan?
Development for the Sunny Hills Ranchos private property is still conceptual and does not require noticing to adjacent property owners at this time. The requirements for the easement exchange agreement have been followed, including being agendized and approved at an Open Space and Parks Commission meeting as well as at a Board of County Commissioner meeting.

If Sunny Hills Ranchos should get to the point of submitting a development application for their properties to Washoe County, a public meeting is required as well as notifying adjacent property owners of their development plan. Currently, we do not know if the removal of the BLM or Nevada State Park deed restrictions is feasible from the park area that Sunny Hills Ranchos would like an access easement over, so no development plan has been submitted for review. If and when this happens, the standard notification process and Neighborhood Meeting will be triggered.

Q:  Will I have additional opportunities to provide input about the proposed access easement?
Yes. There is still a long process ahead before Sunny Hills Ranchos may or may not get approval for an access easement to their properties. If the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners approves the easement exchange agreement, Sunny Hills Ranchos will have to follow the Parkland Easement Polices and apply for an application review before the Open Space and Regional Parks Commission at a future meeting.

In addition, both BLM and Nevada State Parks approval is required for access over Hidden Valley Regional Park to Sunny Hills Ranchos’ property due to deed restrictions.

Lastly, Sunny Hills Ranchos would have to apply for a rezoning application with the Washoe County Planning Division to construct the homes they are proposing, and provide a public trail parcel to Washoe County, connecting Hidden Valley Regional Park to adjacent public lands. At any point in time during this process Sunny Hills Ranchos may be denied their request for an access easement. There will be many opportunities for public input during the various phases of any development.

Q:  Now that I know about the proposed easement exchange agreement, how can I stay informed?
Hidden Valley residents can sign up for the Open Space and Regional Parks Commission agenda announcements, as well as agenda announcements from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners. Those who sign up for these notifications can receive emails about upcoming agendas to better understand what items may be presented that impact the Hidden Valley community.

Please visit www.WashoeCounty.gov/subscribe.php and consider signing up to receive notifications from Open Space and Parks, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC), and District 4, which is the District that Hidden Valley falls within.

Q:  I’m more of a visual person. Help me better understand where this is all taking place.
See below. We admit that this isn’t the easiest-to-see map in a newsletter format. For a closer look or to discuss this in greater detail, please contact Washoe County Park Planner Faye-Marie Pekar by emailing fpekar@washoecounty.gov, or by dialing 775-328-3623.

HV Park Easement Map-SM