The Reno City Council approved the appeal of the Reno Gateway Business Park tentative map that was approved by the Reno Planning Commission. In a unanimous vote on 12/4, the city council overturned the Planning Commission approval. This site is between the freeway and the railroad tracks in Mogul. The plan originally envisioned a giant warehouse with a large number of truck bays for semi trucks (semi-tractor-trailers). The developer changed the design completely so that it favored box trucks (used for local delivery) and passenger vehicles. But there was no way to ban semi trucks since businesses don’t know how their deliveries will be made. There is also concern that this area gets a lot of bicyclists and recreational visitors.
City Council discussion;
- Fuss (planning manager) said the current plan would limit the percentage of traffic that would be semi trucks.
- Schieve was not comfortable with the city or NDOT being responsible to monitor the traffic and keep statistics on the types of vehicles. “There should be a better way to protect people who are there for recreation and also for maintaining the character of the area.” She indicated that NDOT will look into the short west-bound merge lane which will be especially dangerous with increased semi truck traffic.
- Reese “This site is wrong for this kind of development.”
- Fuss “It could be more mini-storage or flexible workspace. It might be an equipment storage yard.”
- Brekhus “(Vehicle) trips are the issue. The at-grade railroad crossing is very dangerous.”
- Fuss “The property used for access to the Truckee River is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The developers would need to approve the area roads to Reno standards.
- Jardon is opposed to developing in a way that brings in semi trucks.
- Brekhus “The city does not want to be responsible to monitor the truck traffic to insure compliance.”
- Duerr “Why don’t we consider re-zoning the parcel to bring in a plan that is more suitable.?
- Reese “Could we make it a conservation easement?”
- Jardon and Schieve expressed disappointment that there was no representative of NDOT present at the meeting since traffic is a central issue.
The applicant requested that the motion be tabled to give them time to work on something more suitable. Brekhus suggested that the applicant could withdraw the plan and submit something new later.
The appellants (aka neighbors) make compelling arguments opposing the development plan. The council chambers were packed at the start of the evening meeting that ran from 6:00 to 9:40 PM.
- The traffic impacts are not mitigated as required by the planning-commission findings. The traffic study ignored the I-80 interchange and ramps. The dangerous west-bound ramp has not been improved and can’t be improved due to the nearby overpass. Accidents on this ramp are more frequent than the NDOT report indicated. A train can back up traffic from the intersection onto the freeway off-ramp.
- There is nothing to gain with this development. The city will likely never annex it and collect tax revenue. The residents will suffer dangerous traffic.
- The Special -Use Permit (SUP) findings were not met. This development is not compatible with the area. The map used for the tentative map was not accurate. It shows Open Space in an area that includes residences.
- This is an important location for outdoor access. Many cyclists come through here or meet here to take the Tahoe-Pyramid Bike-way (aka “the Verdi ride”). Families cross the railroad tracks to reach the river. Taking a small bridge across the river provides access to the Toiyabe National Forest. The area is also popular with fisherman.
- The staff report indicates that emergency services will be improved in the area following annexation. But, annexation is very unlikely revealing the staff assertion as false.
- There is a strong sense of community in Mogul as evidenced by the attendance. These residents are not represented since the Reno Planning Commission asserts authority here despite the fact that it is unincorporated.
Fuss reported other uses that would be allowed under the current zoning including a landscape nursery, a convenience store, a car wash, or a storage yard. Alternately, the property could be re-zoned with an amendment to the Reno Master Plan. This would take about 6 months.
The developer agreed to table the motion to continue to work on it. The suggestion was made that the development consider businesses that would support recreation such as biking and fishing. This would likely require re-zoning.
Attendees applauded at the conclusion of the meeting. The city is defending outdoor access for recreation.