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Gourley Dam Update

The Gourley Dam at Joy Lake was discussed at the last Galena/Steamboat CAB and this is the transcript from that meeting. Residents are concerned about why some are required to get building permits and apparently others are not. Also, the potential of a dambreak is a concern of downstream residents.

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Gourley Dam discussion at the CAB:

Special Use Permit SB08-015 (Ted H. and Julie R. Gourley Trust) – Stacie Huggins, Wood Rodgers, Inc
presented the request to legalize the previous grading, excavation, and disturbance of approximately 154,355
square feet (±3.54 acres) on three (3) adjoining parcels as authorized in Article 810 of the Washoe County
Development Code. The subject properties are located south and west of St. James Village; approximately ½
mile from the intersection of Pine Wild Road and Joy Lake Road. The subject parcels total approximately ±46.22-
acres and are designated General Rural (GR) in the Forest Area Plan, and are situated in the E ½ and SE ¼ of
Section 15, T17N, R19E, MDM, Washoe County, Nevada. The properties are located in the Galena-Steamboat
Citizen Advisory Board boundary and Washoe County Commission District No. 2. (APNs 046-190-12, 049-190-
13 and 046-190-14) Staff Representative: Trevor Lloyd, Senior Planner, 775.328.3620 Applicant/Property
Owner:Ted Gourley, Gourley Family Trust was available to address questions and concerns. Professional
Consultant, Melissa Lindell Wood Rodgers, Inc. was not in attendance. Tentatively scheduled for the Board of
Adjustment on December 4, 2008. MOTION: Ron Penrose moved to recommend denial of SB08-015 Gourley
Trust and direct staff to review this project for structural integrity and dam safety, jurisdictional permitting
authority, legitimacy of water rights, legal review by County legal staff regarding sanctions, pollution control
permits, flood controls and review of public comments. John McLelland seconded the motion. Mr. Penrose
added the request that staff provide a report and action plan to the CAB in on steps for public safety. John
McLelland seconded the addition. The motion carried with Dennis Wilson voting in opposition.
Comments and Concerns
• In response to concerns raised, Ms. Huggins assured the CAB and community that the excavation was done
to County Code although it was done without a permit.
• In response to questions raised, Sarah Tone stated that the staff report will not be written until the CAB has
reviewed the application and formed an opinion.
• Questions were raised whether the applicant was provided with a field inspection report. Mr. Gourley stated
that he hired NorTech.
• Ron Penrose asked that the report be forwarded to Washoe County staff. Ms. Huggins stated that Wood
Rodgers has the compaction report.
• In response to questions raised, Mr. Gourley stated that he did not contact Washoe County Air Quality
regarding dust controls.
• Robert Parker stated concern regarding the integrity of the dam. Mr. Parker stated that the State of Nevada
would inspect the dam. Mr. Parker stated that the water rights are for 14 acre feet per year. Mr. Parker also
stated concern that the area of the lake that has no circulation could present a health hazard. Mr. Parker
stated concern that the project was done without any permits or notification to the public. Mr. Parker
cautioned that since the applicant did not get the required permits for the project whether he would comply
with any restrictions that would be placed on the property.
• Roy King stated concern that the lake has doubled in size and the applicant cut down trees without a permit.
Mr. King stated that per aerial views of the stated diseased trees that were cut down, they did not look
• Ginger Pierce raised questions regarding the integrity of the dam should there be a seismic event.
• John McLelland stated opposition to the applicant doing the project without permits and inspections.
• Robert Parker stated that Washoe City is below the dam would be in danger of floods.
• Robert Parker provided letters from Dr. Joel G. and Ms. Sandra D. Verner, St. James Village, Terry Dolan
and John Marian for the record.
• Kip Seckington, St. James Village HOA read his statement into the record. Mr. S asked the CAB to
recommend denial of the SUP until such time that… and post a sufficient bond.
• Donna Peterson, home owner, board member and Neighborhood Watch/Emergency Coordinator in St.
James’s Village read her statement into the record. asked the CAB to recommend denial of the SUP until
such time that… and post a sufficient bond.
• Rick Riley, President HOA Jeffrey Pines stated that he contacted Washoe County on several occasions and
was told that the project would be looked into but that was never confirmed. Mr. Riley stated concern that a
dam collapse would be hazardous to adjacent residential properties. Mr. Riley noted that there has not been
any erosion controls and flood waters would channel into Joy Creek destroying bridges, roadways and private
property. Mr. Riley asked that the CAB recommend that the Special Use Permit be denied and that Washoe
County require that the lake be drained immediately prior to winter weather conditions.
• Paul Grace, President of Galena Pines Association asked how many acre feet the dam would hold before
water spills over the top. Mr. Grace reminded the audience of a retention basin in the Callahan Ranch area
that flooded several residential properties during a storm event.
• Jeff Quinn, St. James’s Village asked why Mr. Gourley why he proceeded with the project without permits and
what is in place at Washoe County to reprimand or fine violations.
• Mr. Gourley stated that there is a spillway on the dam and there is a maximum of 13 acre feet capacity. Mr.
Gourley stated that if the dam broke, it would only lose approximately 1 or 2 acre feet.
• Lynn Mundt stated that the concerns of residents be forwarded to Washoe County and there should be no
approvals given until property owners are assured that the project meets all specifications. Ms. Mundt stated
that a debris flow has been more damaging than just water flows.
• Concerns were raised regarding site work that has been done on the subject parcel along Brown’s Creek.
Mr. Goruley stated that the work done at the north end of the property has been permitted.
• Concerns were raised regarding the apparent practice of developers to violate the law be not obtaining
permits and ask for ‘forgiveness’ after the fact. Sarah Tone reviewed the process and also confirmed that
violators can be fined and possible serve jail time.
• In response to questions raised, Mr. Gourley stated that the primary reason for the lake is to be available to
fight wildfire.
• Concerns were raised regarding the amount of malfeasance of engineering firms who do not advise clients
that they need permits and also the lack of
Greg Bishoff, builder in St. James’s Village discussed the permit requirements and also the process for work
that has been done without a permit.
• Ms. Huggins was asked for the date that Wood Rodgers was hired to work on this project.
• Dennis Wilson recommended that the Attorney General be asked to deal with the legalities of the project and
would the Special Use Permit have been issues before this project was started. Mr. Wilson also stated that
there should be a form of penalization for completing this project without permits.
• Robert Penrose asked that the excavated dirt on-site be looked at by the Health Department for compliance
with dust controls.

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