Sparks City Council Meeting 5/28/2019 2:00:00 PM

    Tuesday, May 28, 2019 2:00 PM
    Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg, 745 4th Street, Sparks, NV

Planning and Zoning Public Hearings and Action Items: 11.2

Title: PUBLIC HEARING, Discussion and Possible action on a Conditional Use Permit request for a minor utility (the construction of a 120-kilovolt overhead power line) on a portion of Wildcreek Golf Course generally located north of McCarran Boulevard and east of Sullivan Lane in Sparks, Nevada in the PF (Public Facility) zoning district. (PCN19-0007/CUP19-0003) (FOR POSSIBLE ACTION).
Petitioner/Presenter: Washoe County School District/Jim Rundle, Planning Manager
Recommendation: The Planning Commission recommends City Council approve the Conditional Use Permit CU19-0003 associated with PCN19-0007, adopting findings C1 through C5 and the facts supporting these findings as set forth in the staff report, subject to the four conditions of approval.
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:

This is the public hearing for the City of Sparks to consider a Conditional Use Permit for the construction of a 120-kilovolt transmission line associated with the Development Agreement between the City of Sparks and Washoe County School District for development of a public high school.  The construction of a transmission line is deemed a minor utility by Title 20 and requires a Conditional Use Permit. The Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation of approval of this Conditional Use Permit to the City Council at the April 4th meeting.  The Planning Commission was acting in an advisory authority for this respective Conditional Use Permit pursuant to the terms of the Development Agreement associated with PCN19-0007.


The site is generally located north of McCarran Boulevard and east of Sullivan Lane (Exhibit 1 - Vicinity Map) and is currently used as a public golf course.  In 1978, the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission approved a rezoning of 260 acres of the site from R1-40 (Single Family Residential) to PF (Public Facility).  This property was already being used for a golf course at that time and was combined with adjacent land zoned PF to create the 330+ acre site on which the golf course is currently situated.

A 212+ acre portion of the site on which Wildcreek Golf Course was constructed was purchased in 1974 by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA).  An additional 118+ acres of land were made available by a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) patent assigned by the City of Sparks to Washoe County in 1975 for the development of a golf course. This BLM patent carries a customary BLM reversionary clause. The part of the site subject to the BLM reversionary clause is not included in the requests for land use approvals the Washoe County School District (WCSD) submitted to the City of Sparks.

WCSD identified a future need for a high school in this general area of the community as part of their 2009 School Facilities Plan.  WCSD also indicated the need for a high school in the Wildcreek area as part of the 2016 Capital Funding Initiative, WC-1, that was approved by the voters of Washoe County in November 2016.  Based upon the passage of WC-1, WCSD completed a site assessment for a new high school site in the area of the existing Hug High School that would also provide WCSD the ability to relieve overcrowding at Spanish Springs High School.  The site assessment analysis showed that the Wildcreek Golf Course property best met the educational and operational objectives of WCSD.  Wood Rodgers, Inc., a planning and engineering consulting firm retained by WCSD, completed a due diligence study of the site. The study did not indicate any constraints that would preclude the construction of a high school on the Wildcreek site. The report also indicated that the golf course property, because of its size and characteristics, afforded multiple site planning options to provide for a high school, recreational and public amenities, and open space. 

In May 2017, the governing bodies of Washoe County, the City of Sparks, the City of Reno, the RSCVA Board of Directors, and WCSD approved a Letter of Intent stating that the entities agreed that a new public high school at Wildcreek Golf Course was in the best interests of citizens of Washoe County, the City of Sparks, and the City of Reno. The entities further agreed to cooperate in the planning, development, and construction of a new high school at this location. 

On September 12, 2018, a parcel map was recorded dividing the 212+ acre parcel into three parcels, including an 87+ acre parcel on the north end of the property that WCSD identified as the preferred site for the proposed high school. In December 2018, the WCSD Board of Trustees, the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners, and the RSCVA Board of Directors approved general terms for WCSD’s acquisition of this parcel.

On February 7, 2019, the RSCVA Board of Directors unanimously approved a Cooperative Agreement to transfer its interest in the entire Wildcreek Golf Course property to Washoe County. One purpose of the Cooperative Agreement is for Washoe County to sell a portion of the property to WCSD for construction of a public high school.  On February 19, 2019, the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the Cooperative Agreement, declaring that it is in the best interest of Washoe County and its citizens for Washoe County to convey an 87+ acre parcel to WCSD for the purpose of constructing a public high school. The remaining two parcels totaling 125+ acres will remain Washoe County property.

In July of 2018, the Sparks City Council sponsored an amendment to the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan to relocate a utility transmission corridor to facilitate development of Wildcreek Golf Course.  Due to the topography of the property, areas suitable for construction of a large building are limited.  The most appropriate portion of the site currently has a 120 KV electric transmission line across it.  The requested Regional Plan amendment was approved by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Governing Board (RPGB) at its February 2019 meeting.  The RPGB’s approval took the form of adding an additional transmission line corridor to the north of the existing corridor while maintaining the existing corridor to prevent the existing transmission line location from being out of conformance with the Regional Plan. The RPGB required the transmission line to be relocated within two years of the approval (i.e., by February 2021). If the transmission line is not relocated by February 2021, then the additional corridor will expire.  If the transmission line is relocated, a Regional Plan amendment will be required to remove the abandoned corridor.

In 2013, NRS 278.0211 was enacted. NRS 278.0211 requires consistency among local governments in zoning ordinances with respect to certain development standards and specifications that apply to the construction or alteration of public schools in Washoe County.  The law requires that such standards and specifications be developed in conjunction with the Washoe County School District. In February 2014, in compliance with NRS 278.0211, the City of Sparks adopted by ordinance the requirements for the development of public schools. These standards were coordinated with WCSD, Washoe County, and the City of Reno. Washoe County, the City of Reno, and the City of Sparks all adopted Administrative Review as the procedure for entitling the construction or alteration of public schools. 

However, development of the proposed site for Wildcreek High School still requires a public hearing as the project exceeds the parameters for Administrative Review. Both construction of a minor utility (transmission line) and development of a site with slopes of 10 percent or greater over 25 percent or more of the site trigger the requirement for Conditional Use Permits (CUP). 

While an Administrative Review and CUPs are required, these entitlement processes either limit the scope of the review as in the case of the CUPs, or do not require a public hearing and City Council approval as is the case with the Administrative Review. Given the size and significance of the project and the proposed site (i.e., a public golf course), as well as the concerns expressed by the public and the City Council, WCSD and City of Sparks staff identified that use of the development agreement process authorized by Chapter 278 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code (SMC) could provide a mechanism for a more complete review of the Wildcreek High School proposal by the public, third-party reviewing agencies, Sparks Planning Commission, and Sparks City Council.

Without the proposed Development Agreement, WCSD would have submitted requests for the two CUPs associated with this request, and if approved, followed with an application for an Administrative Review of the school itself. The primary documentation for these CUPS would be: (1) a grading plan demonstrating compliance with the City’s hillside development ordinance (SMC 20.04.011), and (2) plans for construction of the new transmission line (SMC 20.02.013).  While this approach would have complied with all legal requirements, it would have favored piecemeal review rather than allowing review of the project in its entirety. The CUP process would also have limited any conditions of approval to those directly relevant to construction of the transmission line and the grading plan. The ability to consider and mitigate other impacts, such as traffic, would be outside the scope of the two CUPs.  WCSD therefore agreed, in the interest of permitting a full public review of the proposed Wildcreek High School, to enter into the proposed Development Agreement. By agreeing to do so, WCSD waived its right for the Sparks Planning Commission to approve the CUPs.  Instead, the Sparks Planning Commission was asked to review the Development Agreement and the CUPs in an advisory capacity. The Planning Commission reviewed these requests on April 4, 2019 and forwarded a recommendation of approval regarding these applications to the Sparks City Council (see Planning Commission Report of Action).  The City Council will act as the final decisionmaker.


The Sparks Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of three requests associated with construction of a high school at Wildcreek at its April 4, 2019 meeting.  This includes the Development Agreement, a Conditional Use Permit for development on a site greater than 10 acres with slopes exceeding 10% or greater over 25% or more of the site, and for the construction of an electrical transmission line.

CUP19-0003 - a Conditional Use Permit request for a minor utility (the construction of a 120-kilovolt overhead power line)

A CUP is required for the construction of a minor utility, in this case, a 120-kilovolt transmission line. In accordance with the terms of the proposed Development Agreement associated with this CUP request, the Planning Commission is acting in an advisory capacity to the City Council. 

The portion of the Wildcreek Golf Course property identified as the project site is the most ideal development pad in terms of slope gradients.  The proposed site avoids the steepest slopes on the existing golf course while preserving more naturally occurring steeper slopes located to the north.  The development site also preserves portions of the existing golf course, including the nine-hole executive course. These benefits can only occur if the transmission line is moved to the north of the site. 

The existing 120-kilovolt electrical transmission line at Wildcreek Golf Course continues to conform with the Regional Plan as the respective regional plan amendment added a corridor and did not remove or move the existing corridor.  This is discussed in the Background section above. The Regional Plan amendment was approved by the RPGB to add an additional corridor to the north of the existing power line to provide WCSD the ability to construct the school on the most suitable, flat area of this site.  Exhibit 2 demonstrates the proposed site plan of the proposed high school.  SMC 20.08.002 defines a minor utility to include all lines and facilities related to the transmission of electricity, and SMC 20.02.013 requires a minor utility to be considered by CUP in the PF (Public Facility) zoning district. 

Conformance with the Sparks Comprehensive Plan can be found as a Regional Plan Amendment for the utility corridor has been approved.  Moving the existing utility line allows for better placement of the proposed school and City staff has not identified any adverse impacts of moving the transmission line northward.  Exhibit 3 depicts the existing and proposed locations of the transmission line and illustrates the elevations and size of the H Frame poles the tallest of which is 75 feet in height.  A cross-section as well as a plan view of the relocated line are also provided. 


The proposal, as submitted and conditioned, is in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.

This site has a Community Facility land use designation, which allows minor utilities as an appropriate use.

The Goals and Policies in the Comprehensive Plan that are relevant to this proposal include:

Policy C14            Work with WCSD to strategically plan the location of new public schools.

Goal RC3              Identify and anticipate potential environmental, regulatory, and other constraints on Sparks growth and economic vitality. 

Policy CF19         Foster the placement of infrastructure in utility corridors.

The City of Sparks has been working with WCSD to relocate the existing 120-kilovolt overhead power line to this proposed location to facilitate development of a new high school on the Wildcreek Golf Course property, in furtherance of Policy C14 and Goal RC3.  Policy CF19 calls for the placement of infrastructure, in this case a 120-kilovolt transmission line, in utility corridors.  As identified in the Background section of this staff report, a Regional Plan Amendment was approved by the RPGB to add a utility corridor for relocation of this transmission line. Approval of this CUP will allow for this process of relocating the transmission line to be completed, in compliance with Policy CF19.


The application, as submitted and conditioned, is compatible with the existing or permitted uses of adjacent properties.

This CUP is for the reconstruction of a utility line that is currently traversing the property and will be relocated.  The transmission line will need to be constructed within the recently approved utility corridor. 

The existing uses of the adjacent properties are as follows:





Open Space

Community Facility – PF (Public Facility)



Large Lot Residential – Unincorporated Washoe County zoning


Golf Course

Community Facility – PF (Public Facility)



Intermediate Density Residential – Planned Development (Wildcreek Golf Villas)

This CUP will allow moving an existing transmission line northward within the Wildcreek Golf Course site. The proposed placement of the transmission line in a new utility corridor approved by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency will not adversely existing or permitted uses of adjacent properties.


The potential impairment of natural resources and the total population which available natural resources will support without unreasonable impairment has been considered.

The proposed site for the transmission line is on land that has already been developed or otherwise disturbed.  The impact on natural resources and population was previously considered and determined to be minimal during the process of amending the Regional Plan to add an additional utility corridor specifically to accommodate this proposed transmission line. 


The application, as submitted and conditioned, will address identified impacts.

This CUP is for the construction of a transmission line. More specifically, an existing transmission line will be moved northward from its present location. Construction of the transmission line will result in disturbance of an area that is currently part of Wildcreek Golf Course. This disturbance is the primary impact associated with this application; this impact will be mitigated by revegetation of the corridor area with native plants, as required by the Development Agreement.       

Finding C5:

Public notice was given, and a public hearing held per the requirements of the Sparks Municipal Code and the Nevada Revised Statutes.

This CUP for the construction of a minor utility required individual public noticing; 270 notices were mailed to owners of property within 500 feet of the subject property on March 19, 2019.  Notice of this public hearing was also published in the Reno Gazette-Journal on March 21, 2019.  The Planning Commission and City Council meetings function as the public hearing required by Nevada Revised Statutes and SMC 20.05.008.

Conditions of Approval

CUP19-0003 Minor Utility (Transmission Line)


This conditional use permit is approved as submitted and conditioned.  Any substantial changes shall require review and amendment of this conditional use permit.


Expiration of this conditional use permit shall comply with Sparks Municipal Code 20.05.008.


This conditional use permit shall be reviewed as a project of regional significance prior to the construction of the transmission line.


The area dedicated to the transmission line corridor shall be revegetated with native plants.

  1. The City Council can approve CUP19-0003 and the proposed conditions as presented.
  2. The City Council can modify or add conditions of approval as presented.
  3. The City Council can deny CUP19-0003.

Recommended Motion:

I move to approve the Conditional Use Permit CUP19-0003 associated with PCN19-0007 based on Findings C1 through C5 including conditions one through four and the facts supporting these findings as set forth in the staff report. 

Attached Files:
     01- Exhibits 1-3.pdf
     02- Report of Action PCN19-0007.pdf
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