The Reno City Council heard appeals on March 24 from both the neighbors and the developer on the Planning Commission’s decisions on the Santerra project (12/16/20). The neighbors (represented by Argyris) were appealing the approval of the Master Plan amendment and zoning change. The developer (Toll Brothers) was appealing the denial of the tentative map and the Special Use Permits (SUP). This is a project to put 1,225 homes on 1,165 acres on the south side of I-80 in Verdi.
Public Comment: (52 e-mails received in opposition, 10 expressing concern, 1 in support; in addition, 4 voicemail messages were received in opposition)
- The tentative map does not comply with the Mortensen-Garson Overlay District (MGOD) requirements regarding community planning, environmental and safety issues.
- There is a lack of funding for public safety and infrastructure. This specifically refers to the staffing of fire station #19. This was a key consideration in the denial of the Mortensen Ranch project.
- This plan includes hundreds of homes to be built in an area identified in the MGOD as Open Space.
- This plan includes building on ridgelines that are protected in the MGOD. This is especially true for the southwest ridge.
- The current plan is inadequate for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) to provide water service to these homes.
- Traffic is not adequately addressed especially in terms of the freeway access to I-80. The highway infrastructure is inadequate for residential, fire, and public safety traffic.
- Wildfire hazard is not adequately addressed in this plan. A primary concern is the lack of secondary access for fire fighters arriving and residents evacuating.
- NDOW has indicated that this development would wipe out a deer herd. This is an area where deer seek shelter during a storm.
Reno planning staff gave a presentation and made the following points.
- Make part of the existing Industrial zoned area into Residential and a part into Open Space.
- Plan to move the existing Commercial zoned area to the northeast corner near the entry.
- The new plan includes a Regional Park in an area that had been zoned Industrial.
- A site is identified for a fire station and there is a fee of $1,600 per house that will go to a fire-station fund.
- Homes will need to have fire sprinklers. The Reno Fire Department (RFD) can call on the Truckee Meadows Fire Department (TMFD) to respond to a fire here under the Automatic Aid agreement. TMFD has Station 40 near Somersett. The RFD estimates a 14-minute response time from their closest station.
- Santerra is not large enough to justify a Planned Unit Development specification.
Argyris argued that she is aggrieved by the new development due to her concern for the community welfare, wildlife, and traffic and thus has standing. She went on to describe the requirement for cooperative planning indicated in the MGOD handbook. Two of the zoning changes run afoul of this requirement. Councilmember Reese made the point that the Reno requirements for standing are ambiguous. He moved that Argyris be granted standing. This was approved with a unanimous vote. She objects to two of the zoning changes. She showed documentation that Reno would provide the public safety services at the time of annexation. These services are not now available from Reno. The Drakulich ruling makes the expired handbook the controlling document: this plan is not compliant with the handbook. Argyris gave a presentation.
Angela Fuss (Reno Planning Manager) said the plan will go to the Truckee Regional Planning Authority (TMRPA) for review. there is no process of cooperative planning like what existed 20 years ago when the MGOD was formed.
The developer gave a presentation and made the following points.
- The revised plan removes all the industrial zoning which is redefined as residential, open space, or used for the new school.
- Village-12 will reduce the number of homes from 248 to 65.
- The new design better protects viewsheds, drainage ways, and ridgelines.
- There is now a right of way for the required secondary access. It will be complete before any residents move in.
- Traffic levels will not exceed Level-of-Service (LOS) “B” after the development is complete.
- Improvements will be made to three intersections near the Boomtown on-ramp.
- There will be an opportunity for public review and comment on their final map.
Brekhus: the zoning change needs to include an amendment to the MGOD. These need to happen simultaneously before the tentative map can be approved. She is also concerned about both the capacity and structural integrity of the Garson Rd. overpass. It was an NDOT priority project, but there has been no plan to improve it. Amanda Callegeri (NDOT) replied that the overpass is sound and has adequate capacity for the traffic volume indicated in the traffic report. It is not known when funding will be available to improve the overpass.
Duerr: the consideration of issues like funding the new school and the new fire station seems piecemeal while the MGOD documents suggest a comprehensive approach. She is concerned about the amount of grading planned for steep slopes. She is concerned about the amount of train traffic and the hazard that poses to nearby homes.
Reese: after the Argyris presentation, Reese pressed the City Attorney who indicated that the process used for the zone change was acceptable. Reese is also concerned that there be improvements to the road used for secondary access to the development.
Jardon: she likes the changes that have been made to the project since it was reviewed by the Planning Commission. She didn’t see any part of the project that addresses affordable housing. Mike Pagni (developer attorney) said the developer was willing to provide a $1,000 contribution per house toward the City’s affordable housing fund.
Jardon moved to approve the Master Plan amendment. The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed. Brekhus does not believe the zoning change is compliant with Reno code, while Duerr believes the project will have a negative impact on traffic.
Jardon moved to approve the zoning changes. Brekhus is opposed since the required changes to the MGOD have not been incorporated. Duerr is opposed because it is not clear how the new fire station will be funded. She is also concerned about the impact to the rural community (Verdi). The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed.
Jardon moved to approve the tentative map and SUP’s with changes resolved during the meeting. Duerr has many issues with the tentative map especially the SUP for mass grading which is restricted in the MGOD. Brekhus thinks the MGOD requirements are being cast aside with this approach. She thinks the storm water drainage is not adequately addressed. The motion was approved 5-2 with Brekhus and Duerr opposed.
Meeting VIDEO (starts at 5:09)
Meeting AGENDA (Item I-1)