The Reno Planning Commission approved the special use permit for the Reno Gateway Business Park in Mogul on October 16, 2019. (voting for; Gower, Johnson, Velto; voting against; Hawkins, Marshall; Taylor recused herself). [AGENDA VIDEO ]
The developer made the following presentation:
They claimed to have made the following changes to accommodate the neighbors.
- Eliminated the largest warehouse buildings in favor of smaller buildings.
- Reduced the number of truck docks.
- Changed the orientation of the truck docks to reduce noise and light glare.
- Plan for more “box trucks” rather than “semi-trucks”.
- Reduced the total building area.
- Added a lot for boat and RV storage.
- Freeway ramps have been improved for acceleration and merging.
They claim that they have reduced the traffic levels to the point that they are not required to do a Traffic Impact Analysis. They are consulting with Paul Soleagui on traffic issues. He is known for traffic studies that support developers.
The staff gave a brief summary saying that they recommend approval of the project with these changes. Neighbors consider the staff suspect; especially with Angela Foos as the new manager. She recently came from Lumos.
Reno Staff report: Staff-Report_101619
The public comment lasted 1:20. Area residents raised the following concerns.
- Commute-time traffic is already severe.
- There is only one way in and one way out: any increase in traffic is a problem.
- The traffic study commissioned by the developer did not include the freeway ramps. The west-bound on-ramp is particularly dangerous. NDOT agrees that this ramp is problematic, but it can’t be widened due to the nearby overpass.
- There should be an independent traffic study not financed by the developer.
- Emergency evacuation would be more problematic with more traffic.
- Increased air pollution from the increased truck and automobile traffic.
- Early morning truck noise will be a problem.
- The bend in the tracks makes it a dangerous railroad crossing.
- Visitors cross the tracks for recreation to access the river and to access the Toiyabe National Forest on the other side.
- The staff report does not address issues faced by residents on the south side of the property.
- The Tahoe/Pyramid bike path will be affected by the truck traffic.
- Who will enforce the traffic conditions agreed to by the developer?
- Reno will decide about development, but the residents can’t vote for the city council since they are in unincorporated Washoe County.
The Scenic Nevada group wrote a letter opposing the large, illuminated sign for the industrial park. They suggest an inconspicuous road sign.
Planning commissioners made the following points during their discussion.
Marshall asked about the safety issues related to the west-bound on-ramp. Oswald (planner) pointed out that Mogul Rd will need to be brought up to city standards including sidewalks. The developer has asked for a waiver on these improvements. If NDOT mandates improvements to the ramps, the developer would be required to implement them. Improvements would need to be made to NDOT’s satisfaction before permits for construction would be issued. Richard Oujevolk (goes as “OJ”) represented NDOT. He said this was an old interchange that was an obsolete design. The traffic on that section of I-80 is relatively light. Most ramps in Nevada will not permit a loaded truck to reach 65 mph in the length of the merge. This ramp will probably result in trucks merging at 35-50 mph. The developer will need to provide NDOT with a “merge analysis” when they seek approval.
Velto asked about how trucks are considered compared to cars. OJ said that a truck is considered as two cars. He went on to state that there had only been 6 accidents on that stretch of highway in the three years 2015-2017 and that none of them we related to merging.
Marshall asked the developer if they could just give up the semi-trucks and make the loading bays for box trucks. The developer responded that the warehouses are not large enough to be efficient for a lot of semi-truck traffic. He claimed they cannot control when a semi-truck will be used and will not accept a prohibition of semi-trucks as a condition.
Johnson asked what fraction of the estimated 640 additional vehicle trips would be passenger cars as opposed to freight trucks. The developer didn’t know the answer, but said that they expect that only 15% of the traffic leaving the site would use the problematic west-bound ramp. They expect most of the vehicles to the site to be passenger cars and light trucks (pick ups).
Gower asked how this plan would compare to other kinds of development in terms of the additional traffic. The developer replied that the traffic load would be like a neighborhood of 60-65 homes. He further asked about how this property was being handled as incorporated county but in the Reno’s Sphere of Influence (SOI). Angela Fuss (Reno Planning Manager) replied that the city determined that this property was within their SOI even though there is not a basis for the city to annex it at this time. Within the SOI, the city asserts planning and zoning jurisdiction.
Marshall wants to find out about the city’s action given that the property may never be a candidate for annexation.
Johnson asked about the scale of the project and the height of the buildings. The answer was 24-30 feet. Johnson went on to ask about drainage and retention of run off. The answer is that it is mostly detention basins which only slow the flow back to the river. The plan is to implement several measures to improve the water quality before it runs into the Truckee.
Gower asked whether NDOT had specific requirements for this area since it is identified as a point of interest. OJ replied that the markers are put up by the Nevada Historical Society. They got a permit from NDOT to put up the markers. It’s not an NDOT issue.
Marshall received a letter from Scenic Nevada requesting that the sign height be reduced to 20 ft. He asked the developer if this was a change they could accept. The developer said that the sign had to be tall since the site is lower than the roadway. He is prepared to meet with the representative to find an accommodation. Marshall further asked if there could be a condition limiting the amount of semi-truck traffic. This is difficult since transportation companies use a variety of trucks. Oswald suggests a condition that permits “incidental” semi-truck traffic. He acknowledges that this will be difficult to enforce. Marshall suggested eliminating the truck bays suitable for semi-trucks. Marshall is not comfortable with the city making planning decisions on a property that may never be annexed by the city. The decisions the Reno Planning Commission will make will effect the county residents. He is also concerned by the industrial development of a property that is used for recreation; especially by bicyclists. Truck traffic will be a particular problem given that these roads lack shoulders. He rides there.
Gower shares Marshall’s concern about Reno’s jurisdiction over this project. He rides his bike in the area.
Hawkins has a problem with findings A (Land use compatibility), C (adequate infrastructure), and D (traffic impacts).
Johnson thinks Reno may be better to assess this plan since they have experience with the residential adjacency. This is an isolated parcel between the railway and the highway. He struggles with the findings. He is most concerned about the traffic impacts with the larger trucks.
Note: the nearby residents have filed an appeal with the Reno City Council that will be heard December 4.