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Next phase of Pahrump’s Mountain Falls receives narrow approval

William Lyon Homes is marching forward with the development of the Mountain Falls master-planned community, recently receiving approval for a tentative subdivision map for its next phase, constituting more than 120 homes. However, the green light was narrowly granted with two Nye County commissioners expressing reservations about the project, voting against the item.

William Lyon Homes originally secured a development agreement for Mountain Falls in December 2002 with a total of 3,200 homes permitted to be constructed. The development agreement is set to expire in December 2030. The tentative subdivision map approved on July 17 represents a key step toward moving forward with the next phase of development.

According to information provided on the item, the tentative subdivision map is located in Mountain Falls planning area 5B, which will be an age-qualified, gated community with private streets. There will be 121 single-family residences along with 79, 554 square feet, or roughly 1.8 acres, of common element and open spaces.

“This is part of the subdivision, this isn’t adding anything new on, it’s part of what was agreed to in the development agreement many years ago,” Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen explained of the agenda item on July 17. “I make a motion to approve the tentative map.” Commissioner Lorinda Wichman offered a second, opening the topic for discussion.

Commissioner Donna Cox immediately jumped in to state that she opposed the item, citing water concerns as her reasoning. “Due to the fact that we don’t know if we have enough water or not to even supply Pahrump anymore, I am not going to go for any more of these items that have more than one house on an acre,” Cox declared.

She was not the only commissioner to convey dissatisfaction with the tentative map either, with chairman John Koenig airing his concerns as well. In the past, Koenig has made it no secret that he does not support dividing land into tiny parcels, noting that ideally, he would personally like to see lots at least a quarter-acre in size or larger.

“These are approximately 6,000 square-foot lots and I really have a problem with 6,000 square foot lots,” Koenig stated during the meeting. A 10,890 square foot lot is 0.25 acres while 6,000 square feet equates to just under 0.14 acres.

William Lyon Homes representative Scott Swapp attempted to assuage both commissioners’ apprehensions.

“I’d like to address your comment in relation to water. We have an independent aquifer that supplies basically that portion of Mountain Falls,” Swapp said. “In the last five years, roughly, the wells have gone artesian, there is so much water. There is not a system that the utility currently has that takes water from that aquifer and puts it anywhere else other than in that immediate area, so we have water…”

Cox appeared skeptical of the assertion and asked pointedly, “If you’d like to bring me some kind of evidence that that is true, at some point, I would be very glad to look at it.” Koenig added that he too would be interested in seeing that evidence as he had never heard those claims before.

“Absolutely. And we hold the water rights for everything,” Swapp replied. As of August 1, Koenig said the county had yet to receive any documentation showing an aquifer independent of Pahrump’s Basin #162 supplying water to the Mountain Falls area.

Turning to Koenig’s lot size comments, Swapp continued, “Our development agreement is limited to 3,200 units for the whole development, so density, to address the other commissioner’s concerns with lot size, we have to start doing larger lots anyway throughout the rest of the development, as we move toward the end, because we are limited to only 3,200 for the entire master plan. So the lot sizes are relative to what is selling and what makes sense for us. But I understand your concern for the lot sizes because it is rural out here …”

Cox and Koenig were evidently not swayed from their opposition. When the motion to approve came to a vote, it resulted in 3-2 with Schinhofen, Wichman and commissioner Butch Borasky in favor and Cox and Koenig against.

Before construction on this next 122-lot phase can take place, William Lyon Homes will also have to appear before the Nye County Commission for approval of its final subdivision map for planning area 5B, which will include a detailed outline of how the build-out will be arranged.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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