Reno Planning Commission 4/20/2022

The Canyons

The The developer is requesting approval for grading for two water tanks for The Canyons and The Canyon’s Edge developments (developer presentation). The Planned Use Development zoning was approved last year. The plan has changed from a single water tank to using two tanks. There was also a presentation from Reno Planning Staff. The planning department recommended approval. There was no public comment in person or by e-mail. The motion was approved unanimously.

Gateway at Galena

The developer gave a presentation. The plan is for 361 condominiums with both integral and detached garages on 34 acres adjacent to the UNR Redfield Campus on the Mount Rose Highway at the intersection with Wedge Pkwy. The existing zoning is Mixed-Use Suburban. The Master Plan identified it as space for a possible expansion of the Redfield Campus. Their plan is for 11 units per acre which is less than the 30 units per acre typical for this zoning. The buildings will be 3 stories with the ground floor being mostly garages. The Reno Planning Staff had a presentation. The annexation request will go to the Reno City Council in May. Staff recommended approval. The motion was approved unanimously.

Meridian 120

The developer’s attorney came to the Planning Commission requesting that three conditions of approval be approved, amended, or deleted for the Meridian 120 South development. The attorney complained that residents were trying to delay work on the project with an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court following a loss in district court. The developer is seeking changes to the tentative map approved in 2020. The attorney made a presentation . There was also a staff presentation.

The developer is asking for approval of Condition #28 to rezone 8.3 acres of industrial-commercial to open space. This zoning change will require a master-plan amendment and so will require the approval of the city council as well as the regional planning commission (TMRPA). Staff supports the zoning change and master plan amendment. The recommendation for approval passed unanimously.

The developer wanted the planning commission to drop condition #31 for emergency secondary access to I-80. This condition was applied by the city council. The developer claimed that this access was not necessary and impossible to satisfy. The condition was for the developer to explore the possibility of providing a secondary emergency access to I-80. The developer met with NDOT, and was told that connecting to I-80 was not possible. The development of the adjacent Santerra project makes secondary emergency access available in conjunction with Santerra.

  • Reno Fire Marshall (Palmer): agrees with staff that condition #31 is no longer needed. Developer proposal meets fire code using the Santerra access. Even if the total 3,000 units ($1,600 contribution for each unit) are built, it will not cover the cost of a new fire station, equipment and staffing. [Taxpayers will be subsidizing this development.]
  • The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend to the city council to drop this condition.

The developer is asking that condition #4 be amended for this project. This condition requires that the developer get the Mortensen-Garson Overlay District (MGOD) amended to increase the housing units above the 3,000-unit cap, or to negotiate with other developers working in the area to get additional units under the 3,000-unit cap. The developer wants to build triplex homes in the area zoned Arterial Commercial (AC), but this would exceed the 3,000-unit cap by 285 units. The suggested amendment would indicate that the AC-zoned parcel was exempt from the 3,000-unit cap.

The attorney claimed:

  • Other developers will not trade them units to stay under the 3,000-unit cap.
  • The MGOD cannot be amended at this time due to ongoing litigation.
  • The MGOD cap does not apply to residential units built in the area zoned Arterial Commercial. The cap was intended to apply only to areas zoned as residential. The Arterial Commercial zoning does not have a cap for residential density.
  • Zoning normally allows for up to a 10% density increase which would cover the additional 285 units based on the 3,000-unit cap.

The staff report did not support the claim that the AC-zoned parcel did not fall under the 3,000-unit cap.

Public Comment

Representatives of the Society for the Preservation of Verdi made a presentation. Speakers made the following points.

  • The developer’s argument is a smokescreen intended to exceed the MGOD limit of 3,000 units total.
  • This limit was affirmed by a recent court decision against the adjacent Stan Lucas development.
  • There is an appeal in the Meridian 120 South case before the NV Supreme Court regarding the unit cap.
  • Using the Arterial Commercial zoning for residential makes it subject to the density caps.
  • The AC zoning would only allow 100 units additional: it is not “unlimited” as claimed.
  • The MGOD overlay district takes precedence over Reno zoning.
  • Changes to the MGOD are on hold pending litigation. It might be subject to amendment after the litigation is concluded.
  • It would likely be convenient to residents to have commercial businesses on the frontage road as it is currently zoned.
  • The I-80 overpass and ramps are not to the current standard and will not support greatly expanded traffic.

Commissioner Discussion

The planning commission is making a recommendation to the city council which will have authority regarding the conditions.

  • Commissioner Johnson can’t make the findings for this level of density in this area. He certainly can’t support a proposed increase.
  • Commissioner Gower won’t support it: he does not think the “density bonus” of 10% applies to the MGOD as a whole. He thinks the 3,000 unit cap stands independent of zoning.

The motion passed 4-2 recommending the developer’s request to the city council.

Meeting Video

3 thoughts on “Reno Planning Commission 4/20/2022

  1. Thanks Steve – what was interesting at the meeting was – there were 6 people in the audience for Meridian but NO ONE was there in the audience for the other projects – no objections to the projects for the most part. On Meridian, Velto stated 3 times he was quoting but he left off verbiage in order to swing it to support BT South – Gordon called him an astute lawyer – they clearly had discussed doing this – the looks between them were very revealing – unethical in my opinion and Velto needs to be removed from PC

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  2. I hadn’t noticed the looks between Velto and Gordon. It may not have been as obvious on the video. Velto, Taylor, and Drakulich appear to be the agents of the developers. Drakulich is one, but I wonder what opportunities, relationships, or rewards were used to enlist Velto and Taylor.

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  3. Velto stated that he was reading from the hand book but the one and only line that he read was taken totally out of context. The entire paragraph that this one line comes from clears the intent of the MGOD density restrictions clearer. He proceeded to construe a conclusion that would support the developer. I would say something is very fishy in Denmark. Velto’s judgement in this issue is subject to question.

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