A project to change the historic Caughlin Ranch House site is moving forward, even after one member of the Reno City Council appealed the decision.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that councilwoman Jenny Brekhus' appeal failed at a hearing, last week.

Nearby residents, city staff and the historical resource commission did not like an initial proposal to build 25 town homes surrounding the historic Caughlin Ranch House. After reevaluating, planners got the green light on a new proposal. The plan now is to convert the home into offices, while keeping its historic architecture in place, and surround it with an office park. 

Tom Gallagher, the President & CEO of Summit Engineering Corporation explains why they accepted the new idea, "I think architecturally, they liked it better, because if you are doing town homes and that kind of thing, the majority of them would be two-story. They felt they were encroaching too near Mayberry."

When Brekhus appealed the approval, she claimed the planning department should have rezoned the property. That's because it's currently zoned for open space which does not allow any new construction. However, it was given an historic overlay, which allows new construction if it helps to preserve historic structure. 

Brekhus says others may take advantage of that overlay and compromise a building's historic value. At a city council meeting on February 28th, Brekhus approached the podium, saying, "I have a 50-year-old house across the street from me--what if that person comes in, gets the HL overlay and tells everyone, to make that property--to make his mortgage, he needs in the back, a daycare center?"

Meanwhile, planners say the Mayberry Gardens project would also help preserve the historic home, itself, with revenue generated from the ranch-style office spaces. Those tenants would pay dues to a business association, Gallagher explains, "They will be putting revenue into the association for maintenance of all the buildings, including the historic building."

After a lengthy hearing, Brekhus' appeal failed last week. The project still has a green light from the city for now, unless another appeal is made.

Gallagher says they've asked the Historical Resource Commission to reverify all of the analysis they have done on the project so far, to ensure they have indeed followed the city's code. 

No developers have picked up the project yet, but Gallagher says there has been interest, and that developers are likely just waiting until the project officially moves forward and no additional appeals are made.