Sparks City Council Meeting 10/24/2016 2:00:00 PM

    Monday, October 24, 2016 2:00 PM
    Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg, 745 4th St., Sparks, NV

Planning and Zoning Public Hearings and Action Items: 11.1

Title: Consideration and possible adoption of Resolution No. 3303 certifying the amendments to the Sparks Master Plan (now referred to as the Sparks Comprehensive Plan) including changing the land use designations, adopting new goals and policies, and removing the Northern Sparks Sphere of Influence Plan, the Transit Oriented Development Master Plan and the West Pyramid Plan and other matters properly relating thereto. (PCN16039)
Petitioner/Presenter: City of Sparks/Karen L. Melby, AICP
Recommendation: The Community Services Department and Planning Commission recommend that City Council certify the Comprehensive Plan associated with PCN16039; see motion below.
Financial Impact: N/A
Business Impact (Per NRS 237):
A Business Impact Statement is not required because this is not a rule.
Agenda Item Brief:

This item is to review and discuss on the draft Comprehensive Plan adopted by Planning Commission on August 18, 2016. The Proposed Plan revises and replaces existing elements of the Master Plan. The Comprehensive Plan changes the land use designations, adopts new goals and policies and removes three area plans. The Comprehensive Plan guides the City until 2030.


The City’s current Master Plan is comprised of individual master plan elements adopted over the years, with most adopted in the 1990s. Amendments and elements have been added, but the plan has never been fully updated.

 In 2015, the City Council set as a priority the updating of the Sparks Master Plan and authorized the hiring of a consultant to assist the City with public outreach and participation. On September 28, 2015, the City Council approved a contract with RAD Strategies for the community outreach process. In the fall of 2015, the City of Sparks kicked off the public outreach portion of its development of a new Comprehensive Plan. The public outreach effort aimed to engage the widest, deepest participation in Sparks’ planning history. Modern technologies, extensive media outreach, and presentations to community groups were employed to achieve this goal. There were two phases. The first phase was the Vision Survey Phase. It was kicked off at the 2015 Hometown Christmas Parade and closed in February 2016.

 The Phase 2 ‘Deep Dive’ survey was based on the groundwork from the Vision Survey and consisted of two questionnaires. The survey ran from February through June 2016.  Between the two surveys, there were 2,591 surveys completed. There were public meetings with the Planning Commission, City Council, Sparks Citizen Advisory Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission. In addition, staff attended 39 other group meetings such as Rotary to solicit discussion and input.  Two neighborhood workshops were held per the requirements of Nevada Revised Statues. The City mailed a notice (36,333 total) for the neighborhood meetings to every property owner within the City of Sparks and within 750 feet of the city limits.  The neighborhood meetings were held on July 26th and 27th with a total of 75 attendees.

 On August 18, 2016, the Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on the draft Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission adopted the Comprehensive Plan and granted staff the authority to administrative corrections and add Multi-family land uses in the Commercial designation. The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission determined the Comprehensive Plan conforms to the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan on September 28, 2016.

 The request before the City Council is to review and certify the Comprehensive Plan that was provided to the Council in August 2016. If the City Council certifies the draft Comprehensive Plan, a final Comprehensive Plan will be published and distributed.


The Comprehensive Plan adopted by Planning Commission revises and replaces existing elements of the Master Plan while including new goals and policies for the City. The Comprehensive Plan serves as a ‘big picture’ policy document guiding the City to the year 2030. Rather than a plan consisting of ‘solo’ elements, the proposed Plan integrates the typical master plan elements into seven topics. The Comprehensive Plan is divided into five chapters.

Chapter One is Ignite Sparks. This chapter summarizes what a comprehensive plan is, compliance with Nevada laws, the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan and the public outreach process.

Chapter Two, called Pathway to the Future, sets forth the Vision Statement for the Comprehensive Plan, which is making Sparks the ideal place to “to live, work and play.” The results from the community survey process identify five challenges that the City will face as it grows which are discussed in this chapter.

Chapter Three is entitled Sparks Today. This chapter provides information about the city and its history.  To address the topics required by Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), this chapter covers the elements of conservation (environment and cultural resources, natural hazards, geologic hazards, air quality and renewable resources), population and housing. It also addresses Sparks’ economy. This Chapter also addresses the facilities and services provided by the City, as well as, public services not administered by the City.

Chapter Four, named Framework for the Future, is the heart of the Comprehensive Plan and contains the goals and policies. This chapter reflects the community’s vision from the outreach process and has been organized into seven topics referred to collectively as the Policy Framework. This approach promotes the Plan’s vision holistically, rather than a collection of individual elements. The seven topics are:

  • Managing Growth
  • Connectivity
  • Community Facilities and Services
  • Community Character
  • Housing and Affordability
  • Resiliency and Sustainability
  • Economic Vitality

Managing Growth proposes 6 goals and 16 policies. The goals and policies encourage a mix of land uses, facilitating infill, and redevelopment along with reinvestment in the older parts of Sparks, including the revitalization of the industrial area. Policy MG5 establishes review criteria for master plan amendments over 5 acres in size. Policy MG7 addresses annexation requests and establishes application review criterial. For projects in the City’s Sphere of Influence, Policy MG8 defines the review criteria.

For Connectivity, 3 goals and 9 policies are proposed. The policies are intended to ensure that streets are improved as multi-modal and will continue as such. Policy C4 requires sidewalks on all street networks. Policy C5 addresses converting 4th Street into a bike boulevard. Other policies promote a pedestrian-friendly environment to facilitate walkability and transit ridership. Policy C8 is intended to ensure that existing and proposed trails/pedestrian ways in Sparks are completed and maintained.

Community Facilities and Services proposes 2 goals and 19 policies. Policy CF1 states that a land use entitlement cannot be approved unless acceptable service levels can be provided. Policy CF3 requires the City to adopt criteria for allocating excess sewer capacity, if it is available. Policy CF5 states that when parks are eliminated due to development, the park facilities must be replaced with equivalent facilities. Per Policy CF9, the City will strive to maintain a 6-minute response time for the fire department for 85 percent of the City. Policy CF11 calls for the City explore providing a satellite police office manned by civilian staff.

The next topic is Community Character with 1 goal and 10 policies proposed. Policy CC3 will evaluate the possibility of the creation of a historic district. Policy CC4 directs the City to increase, as feasible, the number of special events held in Sparks. Policy CC6 encourages public art in major private and public projects. Policy CC10 requires working with the Regional Transportation Commission and Nevada Department of Transportation to plan and design major road capacity expansions to minimize the degree to which widening of roads divides neighborhoods or creates barriers for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized travel.

The Housing and Affordability section proposes 3 goals and 10 policies. Policy H1 is intended to ensure there will be sufficient appropriately zoned areas with the infrastructure, public facilities and services necessary for the production of new housing (Policy H1). Other policies promote a variety of housing types (H2) and emphasize the importance of connecting housing with multiple transportation options (H3). Policies H6 and H7 address the City’s need to comply with State of Nevada requirements while others are included to facilitate the development of multi-generational housing options and provide housing options for seniors (H8 and H9). The Housing and Affordability section also acknowledges that a strong and diverse housing market is critical to the community’s economic growth and vitality.

There are 4 goals and 25 policies under the topic Resiliency and Conservation. As the staff was preparing the draft document for Planning Commission, the name of this section was inadvertently changed from Resiliency and Conservation to Resiliency and Sustainability. Multiple policies (RC1 through RC7) target the conservation and protection of water resources. Policy RC8 calls for the City to plan for and adapt to increased drought, severe weather and other potential impacts of climate variability on the water supply. Other policies direct the City to coordinate with regional agencies to improve air quality (RC9), work to increase Sparks’ urban tree canopy (RC10), work regionally in an effort to develop and implement a strategy to diversify energy resources (RC13), and preserve and protect significant natural amenities and unique features such as rock outcroppings and drainage ways (RC23).  Policy RC24 promotes the protection of cultural resources. A new policy (RC21) calls for the City to evaluate the feasibility of decentralized wastewater treatment options, including package plants and satellite facilities, to complement the Truckee Meadows Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The Resiliency and Sustainability section also includes policies, such as RC15 and RC17 through RC19, that are meant to increase the community’s preparation for, and capacity to, absorb disturbances such as earthquakes and wildfire.

Economic Vitality is the last topic and consists of 6 goals and 10 policies. The City’s foremost economic development responsibility is to assure that Sparks is an appealing place to live, work and do business. Sparks does so by providing municipal infrastructure, facilities and services in an efficient and cost-effective basis. Given the interrelated and overlapping nature of this plan’s Policy Framework, many aspects of the City’s economic development role are addressed in other sections of the plan. The Economic Vitality policies therefore focus on more typical economic development goals such as attracting and retaining investment and jobs.

Policy EV1 specifies that the City build on Sparks’ position as a leader in special events by investing additional resources in event venues and adding new events. Policy EV4 directs the City to develop and implement a strategy for attracting new investment and more employment-dense and higher paying industries to the industrial area between Interstate 80 and the Truckee River. Another policy (EV5) calls for the City to undertake the analysis necessary to determine the feasibility of expanding the city limits to include the area east of the City’s corporate boundary and north of Interstate 80 for job-generating land uses. There is also a policy (EV10) requiring, prior to or with an application for a land-use approval (Tentative Map, Administrative Review or Conditional Use Permit), development projects on greenfield site of 20 or more acres to demonstrate they are fiscally positive to the City for a period of at least 20 years.

Chapter 5, titled Implementation and Measuring Success, addresses the implementation of all 121 goals and policies. The chapter includes a matrix used to designate the City department, and in some cases other agencies such as the Regional Transportation Commission, with lead roles or key implementation responsibilities. The matrix also addresses the resources required to implement the goal or policy. Other purposes of the matrix are for the City to track implementation of and evaluate the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Plan, and to highlight areas that need attention or modification.  The basis for this evaluation will be annual report that City staff will prepare for review by the Planning Commission and City Council.

The Comprehensive Plan includes a new Land Use Map to guide land development while providing a basis for projecting future infrastructure needs.  The proposed new map consolidates land use designations, reducing the number from 61 to 20, including 6 Mixed Use District (MUD) designations. This simplification was achieved in part by utilizing broader land use ranges for residential unit density. For example, the proposed Intermediate Density Residential (IDR) designation permits residential densities ranging from 6 to less than 10 dwelling units per acre.  In comparison, the current map has 10 designations that overlap this same range, including those so narrow that they only permit a specific density such as 6, 7 or 8 units per acre, respectively, on land with that designation.  There is also consolidation in other categories, including a reduction in the number of commercial land use categories and the elimination of the Office designation by including that use under the proposed Commercial (C) designation.

The consolidation of land use designations is most pronounced for those areas of Sparks covered by planned development handbooks.  The proposed new land use map does not change what is currently allowed in planned developments as the applicable handbook still governs which uses are allowed on any particular parcel.  The new map would, however, potentially permit a handbook to be modified without also requiring amendment of the Comprehensive Plan land use map. For example, if a developer proposes to amend an existing handbook that currently allows only 7 dwelling units per acre to permit 6 to 9 units per acre, and if per the new land use map, the designation allows for 6 to less than 10 units per acre, the handbook would have to be amended but not the Comprehensive Plan land use map. In addition to simplifying the land use map to make it easier to understand and administer, the broader land use categories are intended to advance this Comprehensive Plan’s goal of fostering diversity in the land use mix, especially in areas outside the City’s mixed use districts.

The current Master Plan has three area plans which will be removed as part of the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan: Northern Sparks Sphere of Influence (NSSOI) Plan, West Pyramid Plan and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Master Plan.

The NSSOI was adopted in 1991. It covers the Spanish Springs Valley within the city limits and east of Pyramid Way. This plan established land use and was instrumental in planning for the provision of facilities and infrastructure as Sparks grew into this area. This area is mostly developed or planned so it is no longer necessary. The NNSOI Plan also includes the requirement that land development be done through the planned development process. This requirement would be eliminated with the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan, permitting developers to undertake development using “straight zoning” (i.e. Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code) rather than having to permit with a planned development handbook.

The West Pyramid Area Plan was adopted in 2008 and is an area plan for the lands located on the west side of Pyramid Way in the Spanish Springs Valley. Generally, this area has not been developed but a majority is covered by the Sonoma Highland Planned Development Handbook. The West Pyramid Area Plan’s land use designations have been converted to the new land uses designations.

The last area plan being eliminated is the TOD Master Plan, which was adopted in 2009. This plan has been incorporated into the draft Comprehensive Plan. When the Zoning Code was adopted in 2015, the zoning district of TOD was changed to MUD (Mixed Use District) so the Comprehensive Plan will reflect the new terminology. The land use categories utilize the same MUD designation.


City Council may choose to not certify the Comprehensive Plan and remand it back to Planning Commission with direction.

Recommended Motion:

I move to adopt Resolution No. 3303 to  certify the Comprehensive Plan associated with PCN16039, allowing staff to make administrative corrections, as necessary, when preparing the final Comprehensive Plan.

Attached Files:
     Comprehensive Plan - Draft.pdf
     RPC Action Letter CR16-011.pdf
     PCN16039 Report of Action.pdf
     CC-Comp Plan Resolution 10-24-16.pdf
     public notice for comp plan.pdf
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