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Sparks City Council Meeting 7/23/2018

General Business: 9.7

Title: Consideration, discussion and possible approval of City of Sparks' sponsorship of an amendment to the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan to relocate a regional utility corridor crossing the Wildcreek Golf Course property. (PCN18-0030)
Petitioner/Presenter: City of Sparks Planning Commission on behalf of the Washoe County School District/Jim Rundle, Planning Manager
Recommendation: The Planning Commission recommends that the City Council sponsor an amendment to the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan to relocate a regional utility corridor crossing the Wildcreek Golf Course property.
Financial Impact: No direct financial cost.
Business Impact (Per NRS 237):
    
A Business Impact Statement is not required because this is not a rule.
Agenda Item Brief:

The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is negotiating with Washoe County and the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority to purchase the land at 3500 Sullivan Lane (the Wildcreek Golf Course property) as a site for a new high school. The WCSD’s preliminary site analysis shows that the most suitable part of the Wildcreek property for the proposed high school has a transmission line crossing it that is in a utility corridor identified in the 2012 Regional Plan (see Exhibit 1). Construction of structures in designated utility corridors is prohibited by the Regional Plan. Moving the utility corridor and the existing transmission line requires amending the Regional Plan. Regional Plan amendments must be sponsored by the City of Sparks, City of Reno, Washoe County, or the Regional Planning Commission. Because the Wildcreek property is located within the City of Sparks, the WCSD has requested that the City of Sparks sponsor an amendment to the Regional Plan to relocate the regional utility corridor to another part of the Wildcreek property.



Background:

In 1997 the Regional Planning Governing Board established the Regional Utility Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee to consider and designate regional utility corridors as part of the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan (hereafter “Regional Plan”). In 1999, the Regional Utility Corridor Report (RUCR) was prepared and adopted as an appendix to the Regional Plan. The goals of the RUCR were to:

  • Ensure areas of community value are avoided or sufficiently separated from the potential adverse impacts of proposed infrastructure;
  • Encourage the use of existing utility corridors;
  • Minimize the establishment or creation of new corridors;
  • Provide for and strengthen community involvement; and
  • Adopt regional polices that allow local governments and utilities to implement their master plans and facility plans efficiently and cost effectively.

In 2008, the City of Sparks, Washoe County, and City of Reno sponsored an amendment to the Regional Plan to replace the RUCR with policies in the 2007 Regional Plan. 

Goal 3.8 (and its accompanying policies) was adopted by the Regional Planning Governing Board to clarify the purpose of regional utility corridors. Goal 3.8 states: “The Regional Plan will establish, maintain, promote the use of, and protect the future expansion of identified utility corridors and sites for transmission of electricity and promote the use of these corridors for the placement of other utilities.” The adopted Regional Plan identifies all above-ground and underground regional utility corridors and sites. Policy 3.8.1 requires a Regional Plan amendment for the removal or establishment a regional utility corridor or for the relocation of an existing transmission line if a new easement is required.

The Washoe County School District is in the process of purchasing the land at 3500 Sullivan Lane (the Wildcreek Golf Course property) to construct a high school on the site.  Their preliminary site analysis has identified where the school facilities would most appropriately be located. The location is underneath an existing electrical transmission line that is in a utility corridor identified in the 2012 Regional Plan (see Exhibit 1). Construction of structures in designated utility corridors is prohibited by the Regional Plan. Moving the utility corridor and the existing transmission line requires amending the Regional Plan. 

The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) may consider amendments to the Regional Plan any time it finds the proposed amendment is necessary to the health and welfare of the community or substantially benefits the community in general. Pursuant to NRS 278.0272(7), Regional Plan amendments must be sponsored by the City of Sparks, City of Reno, Washoe County, or the RPC itself.

On July 5, 2018, the Sparks Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation to the Sparks City Council in support of sponsoring an amendment to the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan to relocate the utility corridor that traverses the Wildcreek Golf Course property.   



Analysis:

The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is seeking approval to move the existing utility corridor that traverses the Wildcreek Golf Course property, as reflected in Exhibit 1, to reduce the constraints the utility corridor poses for redeveloping the property as a new high school. The utility is an above-ground transmission line that connects the Sullivan Lane transmission line to the Spanish Springs substation. The transmission line is owned and operated by NV Energy, and NV Energy’s letter of support for the Regional Plan amendment has been included as Exhibit 2. 

The existing transmission line and utility corridor cross a portion of the Wildcreek property that is flat and appropriate for development. Even if the WCSD does not move forward with construction of a school on the site, the Regional Plan amendment would leave the property better suited for redevelopment than is presently the case.

If the City of Sparks sponsors the amendment, the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA) will consider numerous policies in the Regional Plan in its analysis of the request.  Policy 3.8.1 identifies regional utility corridors. This policy includes the requirement to amend the Regional Plan to relocate an existing transmission line or utility corridor.   

Policy 3.8.2 requires the width of a future corridor to be equivalent to the width of the easement required by the National Electric Safety Code.  The existing width of the easement is 125 feet.  WCSD proposes to match this width for the proposed corridor, and NV Energy has determined this width is sufficient for its needs. WCSD has also coordinated with NV Energy to identify alignment of the proposed utility corridor.

Policy 3.8.3 requires local government master plans to preserve the viability of existing and future corridors by requiring a minimum setback of 10 feet on each side of the corridor as well as specifying passive uses permitted within the setback, including but not limited to parks, trails, parking, landscaping, and fencing.

Policy 3.8.4 states that local government master plans shall require structures be set back 10 feet from any regional utility corridor.  The existing corridor affects the area of the site that is relatively flat and most appropriate for potential future development of structures, impacting the ability to redevelop the Wildcreek site. The area proposed for realignment places the corridor on portions of the property that have moderate slopes and are generally less desirable for development.

Policy 3.8.5 generally requires new utilities to be placed in existing corridors unless the new infrastructure cannot be placed in the existing corridor. Whether new infrastructure can be placed in an existing corridor depends on the hierarchy for placement of new above-ground or underground electrical transmission infrastructure described in Policy 3.8.6. City staff interpret the hierarchy policy as permitting the creation of a new corridor or realignment of an existing corridor if the purposes of Goal 3.8 are met.

If the Sparks City Council and ultimately the RPC sponsor the amendment to realign the utility corridor, the Regional Planning Governing Board (RPGB) will then review the request for its effects on six components of the Regional Plan (promoting regional form and pattern, housing, jobs-to-housing balance, concurrency of infrastructure, fiscal sustainability and public services, and impacts on natural resources) based on an analysis TMRPA staff will provide. 

This agenda item does not permit the construction of any building within the existing or proposed utility corridors, nor does it permit the relocation of the transmission line. Rather, this item asks the City Council to sponsor a Regional Plan amendment to relocate a utility corridor from its present alignment to a more northern alignment on the same parcel. The proposed high school project, if it proceeds, would require a series of approvals from the City of Sparks and other agencies, some of which may require public hearings.

Because the relocation of the utility corridor provides more flexibility for potential redevelopment of the Wildcreek property, and because the regional utility corridor can be relocated within the property in compliance with the intent of Goal 3.8 of the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan, the Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation to the City Council in support of Sparks sponsoring the requested Regional Plan amendment.  



Alternatives:
  1. The City Council can sponsor an amendment to the Regional Plan to relocate the regional utility corridor that crosses the Wildcreek Golf Course property.
  2. The City Council can reject the request to sponsor an amendment to the Regional Plan to relocate the regional utility corridor that crosses the Wildcreek Golf Course property.


Recommended Motion:

I move to approve City of Sparks' sponsorship of an amendment to the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan to relocate a regional utility corridor crossing the Wildcreek Golf Course property.



Attached Files:
     01-PowerLines_Exhibit 1.pdf
     02-PowerLines_Exhibit 2.pdf
     03-PCN18-0030 Report of Action.pdf

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