Before a packed audience, the Reno City Council denied the appeal by the Mortensen Ranch developers of the decision by the Reno Planning Commission to deny the project. The developer first requested a continuance (postponement) of the consideration. The council voted unanimously to deny a continuance. This development abuts Somersett on the western boundary.
Angela Fuss, Reno Planning Manager, gave the staff presentation regarding the project (Staff_Presentation_012220). The Mortensen-Garson Overlay District was the product of a suit between Reno and Washoe County in 2002. The resolution resulted in a development handbook that was set to expire in 10 years. While the handbook expired, the overlay district is still in effect. There are some ambiguities and the handbook and the overlay district definitions do not exactly match.
The developer had 10 minutes to present their request to overturn the Planning Commission decision (Developer_Presentation_012220). His representative claimed that the proposal followed the overlay district plan. He further claimed that the proposal followed the applicable code. The proposal looks the same as the one presented to the Planning Commission.
The council members discussed the issues on the dais.
Council member Jardon said that the increase of homes from 470 to 676 has the appearance of a “bait and switch” tactic. She had been in contact with the developer, but had not been told of the dramatic increase. “This is the poster child for how not to do a project.” The developer had threatened to sue the city if the project was not approved. Jardon will not meet with the developer under these circumstances. This process is not advanced in good faith.
Council member Brekhus is opposed to the process that the zoning would be worked out at the time of tentative map review. The Planning Commission got it right with their consideration of the base zoning preceding the overlay zoning.
Council member Duerr requested Fuss to describe the logic behind the planning staff report. Respecting the ridge lines is a seminal feel to the “look and feel” of Reno. She is also concerned about the intensive grading included in this plan.
Mayor Schieve is concerned about fire and fire response time. Fire Marshal Palmer said that the response time for the closest Reno station would be 9 minutes. The goal for Reno is to have 6 minute response times or less. There is a Truckee Meadows Fire Department station on Fourth Street that would have a 4-5 minute response time to the entrance of the proposed development.
The council voted unanimously to deny the appeal and uphold the decision by the Reno Planning Commission to deny the project.