Sparks City Council Meeting 11/27/2017 2:00:00 PM

    Monday, November 27, 2017 2:00 PM
    Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg., 745 4th St. , Sparks, NV

General Business: 9.8

Title: First Reading of Bill No. 2729 amending Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code to revise definitions, permitted uses, landscaping, density, parking and design standards and providing other matters related thereto. (CA-3-17)
Petitioner/Presenter: City of Sparks/Jim Rundle, Planning Manager
Recommendation: That the City Council instruct the City Clerk to read the First Reading of the Bill by title on November 27, 2017 and thereafter publish notice of a second reading and public hearing of this Bill for its possible adoption and possible approval on December 11, 2017.
Financial Impact: NA
Business Impact (Per NRS 237):
A Business Impact Statement is not required because this is not a rule.
Agenda Item Brief:

The City of Sparks adopted the “new” Sparks zoning code in October of 2015.   The City has now been using the “new” Title 20 for over two years. Based on this experience, City planning staff have identified refinements and revisions. This proposed code amendment proposes changes to Title 20 to revise definitions, procedures, permitted uses, and landscaping, density, parking and design standards.  The Sparks Planning Commission unanimously forwarded a recommendation of the proposed changes to the City Council at its November 2, 2017 meeting.  


In 2011, the City of Sparks initiated a comprehensive overhaul of Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code. Title 20, informally referred to as the zoning code, regulates the use and improvement of land while controlling the location, use and design of structures. 

At that time, the City adopted a three-phase approach.  Phase I involved “quick fixes” to the code undertaken by City staff. Phase II was an analysis of the zoning code, completed with the assistance of consultants, which ultimately produced a report identifying “barriers to development.” The Phase II report (Zoning Code Assessment Report) provided the City direction for subsequent updates to Title 20. 

The goal for Phase III was to substantially revise and reformat Title 20 to improve its “user friendliness”, flexibility and organization. To meet these objectives, a second consultant team was hired to support the City. The team was also tasked with considering and incorporating, as appropriate, current best practices in zoning, as well as consolidating other City land use regulations and development standards (e.g., the Transit Oriented Development Master Plan, various area plans) into Title 20. This included the creation of a new master table of permitted uses, a redistribution of permitted uses across zoning districts, limitations on certain uses and addition of new uses to zoning districts. 

In June of 2015, after numerous workshops, stakeholder meetings, and team meetings, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the overhaul of Title 20 to the Sparks City Council.  In August of 2015, the Sparks City Council adopted the new Title 20 by ordinance.

The City has now been using the “new” Title 20 for over two years. Based on this experience, City planning staff have identified refinements and revisions. This proposed code amendment proposes changes to Title 20 to revise definitions, procedures, permitted uses, and landscaping, density, parking and design standards.

On November 2, the Sparks Planning Commission unanimously forwarded a recommendation of approval to the City Council.  The Planning Commission’s motion included amendments to the proposal by staff:

  1. Update the temporary use permit applicability section to address special events.
  2. Require projects to provide a project contact and telephone number at construction sites.
  3. Amend the definition of Historical Resources to include National and State registries.


The “Background” section touched on the goals for development of the current zoning code, but more specifically, the City Council’s direction to staff was to develop regulations that encourage smart growth with design-based zoning that is flexible yet still predictable and promotes a business-friendly environment in Sparks. The team that rewrote Title 20 was intent on not overstepping the City Council’s mandate while creating a zoning code that incorporates best practices, considers local factors, and is easy to understand. This set of proposed amendments is intended to continue advancing those objectives by addressing shortcomings in the zoning code identified since its adoption in 2015.

The remainder of this agenda item highlights various proposed changes to Title 20 on a chapter by chapter basis. Attached to this staff report are those sections of Chapters 20.02 (Zoning Districts), 20.03 (Use Standards), 20.04 (Development Standards), 20.05 (Administration) and 20.08 (Definitions and Interpretation) of Title 20 that include proposed amendments. Specific changes are identified by crossed-out text (material being removed) or underlined text (material being added). Staff recommends that the City Council review each of the attached sections in their entirety as this staff report does not address every proposed change. 

Chapter 20.02 Zoning Districts

The heart of Title 20 is the Use Table (Section 20.02.013), which specifies which land uses are permitted in each zoning district.  Based on its experience using the Use Table, City staff is proposing the following changes:

  1. Permitting multi-family development in the C1, C2, and TC zoning districts
  2. Removing “Use Standards” for Group Homes and Liquor Stores. Group Homes and Liquor Stores are currently permitted in certain zoning districts. The Use Table erroneously indicates that there are, for these uses, Use Standards in Chapter 20.03.  The proposed correction to the Use Table is to remove the asterisk (*) attached to these uses
  3. Permitting Hotel/Motels of greater than 20 units in the Mixed Use District’s Downtown Victorian Square subdistrict
  4. Adding Equipment Rental or Sales as a permitted use, subject to obtaining a Conditional Use Permit, in the I zoning district (bifurcating from Vehicle Sales)
  5. Permitting Child Care in the PF zoning district
  6. Requiring a Conditional Use Permit for Churches in the C2 zoning district and the Mixed Use Commercial and Downtown Victorian Square areas of the MUD zoning district
  7. Adding Hospice as a permitted use in the MF5, MUD, C1, C2, PO and I zoning districts
  8. Adding Bodily Fluid Collection services in the MF5, MUD, C1, C2, PO and I zoning districts
  9. Permitting Urban Agriculture in the C1 and C2 zoning districts
  10.  Planned Developments. Title 20 is currently silent on the procedure, considerations and findings the City must use when considering modification of a Planned Development that has received a final approval. A new section (20.02.012.G) is proposed to address this deficiency. It is drawn from NRS 278A.380-420 (Enforcement and Modification of Provisions of Approved Plan) and, procedurally, is similar to the City’s rezoning process. The premise underlying the proposed amendment process is that modification of a final plan must be to: further the mutual interest of the residents and owners of the planned development and of the public in the preservation of the integrity of the plan; and, modification of the plan will not impair the reasonable reliance of the residents and owners upon the plan or result in changes that would adversely affect the public interest

Chapter 20.03 Use Standards

Medical marijuana uses, and more recently recreational or adult-use marijuana uses, have been reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council extensively.  More recently, after discussions with the Sparks Police Department and operators of the facilities, changes are proposed to Sections 20.03.25-26.  These changes include extending the hours of operation for dispensaries to 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in all zoning districts in which they are permitted, eliminating the requirement that a written safety plan be submitted for City approval, and extending loading and unloading hours to the period between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for production and cultivation facilities.

Staff is also proposing to amend language in Section 20.03.002(B)2 to allow accessory uses to occupy the same “site” (as opposed to “building”). Under “General Requirements for an accessory use,” the Administrator is provided the ability to determine whether a use is, in fact, accessory.   This change would provide businesses the opportunity to have accessory uses that are not necessarily within the building.  This could include, for example, accessory propane sales, as depicted in 20.03.002(C)1.b.3.

A successful component of the Title 20 revisions was the Temporary Use Permit.  The City has been utilizing this permitting process for public works projects, utility projects and business parking lot events.  Staff is proposing to change the temporary use requirements for non-profit organizations.  This is included in Section 20.03.040.h.  This proposed change would relieve non-profit organizations from the need to obtain a Temporary Use Permit. Non profit agencies would instead be subject to use standards. An example of a non-profit utilizing this section would be Girl Scouts selling cookies at a local grocery store.  Currently, there is a requirement to obtain a Temporary Use Permit. If the proposed change is adopted, the Girl Scouts would simply need to comply with the standards as provided in section “h.”

Urban Agriculture (Section 20.03.044). This section, added in 2015, has been successful and there has been very little code enforcement activity related to Urban Agriculture uses. Currently, Urban Agriculture is permitted in the MF, SF, MUD(RN), an MUD(MR) districts. Staff is proposing to add Urban Agriculture as a principal permitted use in the C1, C2, and PF zoning districts.

Once the Urban Agriculture use and standards were approved and residents began utilizing the standards, staff identified an issue with a standard in Section 20.03.044 regarding chickens: “The chickens shall be provided a covered enclosure and must be kept in the covered enclosure.” The intent of this standard has been corrected with the proposed language: “The chickens shall be provided a covered enclosure and must be kept in the covered enclosure from sundown to sunrise.”

Staff is also suggesting clarifying language for the apiary use associated with Urban Agriculture. “A 6 foot fence acting as a flyway shall be provided.”  Currently, there is no specified standard for the flyway.  Staff believes this will provide for better direction for those wishing to conduct the Apiary use.

Chapter 20.04 Development Standards

Chapter 20.04 provides development standards for various uses. One proposed change is the codification in Section 20.04.005 of construction hours, which currently may be added as a condition of approval for entitlements such as Conditional Use Permits. Staff is proposing construction be permitted from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.  If a developer or builder desires to exceed these hours, staff is proposing the they can apply for a Temporary Use Permit to consider the requests on a case-by-case basis. 

The landscaping section (Section 20.04.006) does not currently apply to single family residences. This does not include Planned Developments as they have their own respective requirements for single family landscaping standards. However, Title 7 of the Sparks Municipal Code requires that single family residences maintain a minimum amount of ground cover in terms of landscaping. For consistency between Titles 7 and 20, staff is proposing to require, in Section 20.04.006, that single family residences comply with Title 7. Another proposed change to the landscaping section is to clarify that the multi-family landscaping requirements apply to duplexes.

Parking requirements (Section 20.04.009) have been added for the new uses proposed in the Use Table.  Staff is also proposing to add General Retail as a use accommodated by the Victorian Square parking district. The parking district was established to provide parking to businesses which are not able to provide the off-street parking required by Title 20. Uses that promote the Victorian Square redevelopment effort have been identified with a diamond.     Conversely, the Medical Office use is not currently required to provide off-street parking in Victorian Square, but after further analysis of the impacts to parking these uses tend to have, staff believes Medical Office uses should provide their own off-street parking. 

Chapter 20.05 Administration

A significant responsibility of the Planning Commission (and City Council) is to consider annexations of land into the city of Sparks.  Since the adoption of the revised Title 20 two years ago, the Planning Commission has experienced instances of desiring more specific information during the public hearing process, whether regarding sanitary sewer or fiscal impacts. Unfortunately, the Planning Commission has been limited to recommending approval or denial to the City Council of a proposed annexation. With this amendment to Section 20.05.05, staff is proposing granting the Planning Commission the ability to Continue (extend consideration of a case to future, date-specified meeting) or Table (continuation of the case but not to a specific date) annexation requests. This would provide staff and/or the applicant time to address items that may arise during the public hearing process and provide the Planning Commission the ability to make a more informed recommendation to the City Council.  Without this opportunity, the City Council may receive information the Planning Commission did not receive due to the rigidness of the municipal code. 

The Administrative Review process provides for a thorough review of an applicant’s project, including multi-family residential projects, in a maximum of 30 days. A change is proposed in Section 20.05.07 to require duplexes, as a form of multi-family development, to obtain an Administrative Review prior to construction.  This proposed change would identify that anything over one unit (not including an accessory dwelling unit) would be considered Multi-Family Residential in Sparks.

The Sparks Planning Commission has a responsibility to consider the findings required, for various types of land use approvals, by Nevada Revised Statutes.  When those findings are not made, the Planning Commission must consider the importance of those findings and determine if a recommendation of approval on the request can still be made.  Staff is proposing to remove the finding for a Conditional Use Permit relating to “The availability of affordable housing in the community including affordable housing that is accessible to persons with disabilities.”  Staff has researched the requirement for this finding and how it relates to Conditional Use Permits and does not see it as required by Nevada Revised Statutes.  Section 20.05.08 includes a proposed removal of this finding, which in many cases is not applicable to the request and therefore cannot genuinely be considered. 

Section 20.05.13 identifies procedures for appeals.  Often, appeals result out of a decision, following a public hearing, of the Planning Commission. Staff is recommending that when a project is appealed, public notice should be provided in the same manner as for the original Planning Commission hearing.  This creates transparency for the public who may otherwise be uninformed of a matter going to the City Council on appeal (i.e., the public viewed the Planning Commission’s decision as final).

In addition, Section 20.05.13 requires that the appeal be scheduled for the next available City Council meeting.  This requirement does not provide staff sufficient time to provide an analysis of the Planning Commission’s decision or re-notice the item.  Modifying the language to requiring the appeal to be heard within 30 days of a complete appeal provides staff this opportunity and ultimately provides the City Council the ability to consider the appeal more complete information.   

Chapter 20.08 Definitions and Interpretation

Utilization of Title 20 often rests on the “Definitions” section (20.08.002) of the code.  As City staff has used the document, they have identified the necessity to amend or add to certain definitions:

  1. Accessory Structure.  Staff is proposing to remove patios and gazebos and add greenhouses to this definition.  Patios and gazebos are covered in the patio cover section of the Municipal Code and including them in this portion only provides confusion. Currently, green houses are not permitted in any section of the code; this will provide setback standards for this type of structure. 
  2. To add “Bodily Fluid Collection Services” as a permitted use requires a definition of this use. Staff proposes to define this use as, “a clinic and/or laboratory intended for the collection, testing and/or distribution of human bodily fluids (e.g. blood plasma, breast milk and sperm).”
  3. Staff is proposing to clarify definitions for setbacks and relating to property. These changes are intended to provide staff some administrative discretion for parcels that are on a corner. Often, setback requirements determine a yard to be the side yard when in practice it is the back yard, limiting the ability to construct a six foot tall fence.  Amending the following definitions will provide some flexibility and predictability to not only planners but to code enforcement as well:
    1. Front Property Line
    2. Front yard parking area
    3. Frontage
    4. Setback, Exterior Side
    5. Side Yard
    6. Setback, Front
    7. Yard
    8. Yard, Exterior Side
    9. Yard, Front
  4. Staff has proposed to add “Hospice” as a use and proposed to define that use as, “A facility to care for the terminally ill.”
  5. The current code lacks a definition for a “Hospital” and is proposing to define the use as: “A building designed and used for the medical and surgical diagnosis, treatment and housing of persons under the care of doctors and nurses and supporting services such as gift shops, pharmacies, restaurants and laundromats.  Rest homes, nursing homes, convalescent homes and clinics are not included.” 

“Vehicle Rentals” is “A facility for the rental of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, trailers, motor homes and RV’s, marine equipment, boats, and recreational watercraft.  This includes accessory parts and supplies, storage and incidental maintenance.”



Recommended Motion:

No Motion, First Reading Only

Attached Files:
     01-Report of PC action Attachment B.pdf
     02-Bill 2729 Title 20.pdf
     03-Attachment A Title 20 Zoning.pdf
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