City Council Chambers, Legislative Building, 745 Fourth St, Sparks, NV
General Business: 6.3
In the summer of 2012, the City hired a consultant to analyze the Sparks Zoning Code (Phase 2) and to make recommendations on how to remove barriers to development. In October and November of 2012, city staff had workshops with the City Council to discuss the code assessment report completed by the consultant. The workshops resulted in considerable discussion and direction for staff to proceed with a code amendment for major deviations. Staff held workshops with Enterprise Fund Advisory Committee (EFAC) and a technical advisory group for their input. The proposed code amendment incorporates the comments discussed at both workshops. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the code amendment on October 3, 2013 and unanimously forward a recommendation of approval of the code amendment.
This proposal is to amend Sections 20.050 Definitions and 20.070.020 Minor Deviations of the Sparks Municipal Code. This code amendment includes a new section allowing major deviations, discussed in detail below. The minor deviation code amendment allows an administrative adjustment by the Administrator of up to ten percent from any quantitative requirement that applies within a zoning district. Currently, minor deviations are only for adjustments of location and/or dimensions of buildings, parking areas and internal roadways, providing such adjustments do not change any points of ingress or egress to the site or exceed the density. The proposed amendment applies to any regulation that is capable of being counted or measured except for signs and parking. Staff is proposing a fee of $120 to process the minor deviation.
The proposed major deviation would allow an adjustment greater than 10% and not to exceed 50% for quantitative requirement(s) within zoning districts. The applicant would submit the required application and fee. The processing of a major deviation will follow the discretionary approval process similar to Special Use Permits. The major deviation would go to Planning Commission for a public hearing. The Planning Commission can approve the Major Deviation with conditions of approval or deny the request. The Planning Commission would have to make four findings in order to approve the Major Deviation. Notices would be sent to property owners within 500 feet of the subject property. If the applicant is requesting a major deviation for more than one standard, the applicant must submit an application for each regulation to be deviated. The proposed processing fee is the same as for a Site Plan Review: a deposit of $1,250 which is credited towards actual staff time and not to exceed $7,495.
The major deviation is a new discretionary process intended to facilitate development by providing an opportunity for applicants to employ creative approaches to design challenges especially in older areas of the city where development standards may be outdated or unnecessarily restrictive. Compared to a variance, which requires demonstrating a hardship, the major deviation findings are intended to assure the project is compatible with the existing or permitted uses on adjacent properties while maintaining consistency with the Sparks Master Plan and zoning code. The major deviation is proposed to be a discretionary review process which could result in less predictability and more judgment on the part of staff to assess the cumulative impacts on the neighborhood. There could be cases when staff will not recommend approval. Concerns include the over use of the major deviation as applicants could focus on acquiring a major deviation rather than spending time and resources on finding creative solutions that comply with code standards. The major deviation process will require monitoring to ensure it does not, over time, undermine the integrity of the Zoning Code.
Alternatives: First Reading only.
Recommended Motion: First Reading and set second reading and public hearing for November 25, 2013.
Title 20 Deviations Amendment (October 2013).pdf