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: 11.3

Title: PUBLIC HEARING, Discussion and Possible action on a Conditional Use Permit request for development on site with slopes gradients greater than 10 percent over 25 percent of the site for 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/CUP19-0004)
Petitioner/Presenter: Washoe County School District/Jim Rundle, Planning Manager
Recommendation: The Planning Commission recommends City Council approve the Conditional Use Permit CU19-0004 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 associated with the Development Agreement between the City of Sparks and Washoe County School District for development of a public high school on a site with slope gradients greater than 10 percent over 25 percent of the site.  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 the 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.

In accordance with SMC 20.04.011, this CUP is required because the school site has slope gradients over 10 percent that exceed 25 percent of the site and the site exceeds 10 acres in size. As stipulated in the Development Agreement, the Planning Commission is reviewing this CUP in an advisory capacity and is asked to make a recommendation to the City Council. 

City staff reviewed the proposed grading plan to determine conformance with SMC 20.04.011.  The purpose of SMC 20.04.011 is to regulate development on hills and slopes and promote quality land development by reducing the potential for aesthetic degradation of landscapes.  Exhibit 2 identifies the proposed site plan including but not limited to school buildings, parking lots, and athletic facilities.  Exhibit 4 reflects that 26 percent of the site has slopes over 10 percent in grade.  Exhibit 5 demonstrates that the steepest slopes are predominantly in areas which have been previously graded, primarily for the Orr Ditch.  Approximately 86 percent of the site contains slopes with a grade of less than 15 percent, which are the most suitable areas for development. 

This site has been analyzed to identify design constraints based on the existing hydrological and geologic conditions.  The project requires grading for a high school campus, football field, track, maintenance buildings, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, and parking facilities.  As discussed above, the project also entails offsite traffic enhancements, including two roundabouts to allow traffic to enter and exit the northwest and southwest portions of the site from Sullivan Lane. 

The portion of the Wildcreek Golf Course property that was selected as the site of the proposed high school is the most suitable for a development pad in terms of slope gradients.  The school 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 allows for preservation of the existing nine-hole executive course.

To facilitate analysis of this CUP request, staff required the applicant to submit a cross section of the site (Exhibit 6).  This cross section depicts that grading will not exceed a 3:1 slope ratio and 3:1 slopes, which are generally considered gradual, are proposed throughout the project site. 

This site does not include any significant ridgelines as identified in SMC 20.04.011(G). 


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

This site has a community facility land use designation. The community facility land use designation expressly allows schools as an appropriate primary use.  The use of this site as a school would be in conformance with the Sparks Comprehensive plan.  As noted above, this CUP is required because the school site has slope gradients over 10 percent that exceed 25 percent of the site and the site exceeds 10 acres in size. 

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

Goal MG3       Maintain a land use plan which integrates land uses and facilitates access by multiple modes of transportation.

Goal MG4       Facilitate infill and redevelopment

Policy MG11  Require new infill development to consider and be sensitive to the character of existing neighborhoods in regard to zoning, building mass, structure placement, height transitions, landscaping, streetscape, access and other physical features of the existing neighborhood.  

Policy C4        Require sidewalks for pedestrians on all street networks within the City.

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

Policy CC10    Work with RTC and NDOT to plan and design major road capacity expansions to minimize the degree to which the widening of roads divides neighborhoods or adds barriers for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized travel.

Policy RC22   Maintain development restrictions and standards in the Sparks Municipal Code as necessary to conform to policies in the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan pertaining to Development Constraints Areas and or slopes with gradients over 30%

Construction of a high school at this proposed location would place a major new public facility in an area characterized by a mix of uses, including single-family housing, multi-family housing, and commercial development, supporting Goal MG3.  The proposed school would provide for redevelopment of a portion of the Wildcreek Golf Course, which has struggled financially, and a major public investment on this site should encourage redevelopment and infill in the surrounding area, in accordance with Goal MG4.  The Development Agreement’s provisions regarding the design of the school and improvements to offsite infrastructure to mitigate the project’s impacts are in furtherance of Policy MG11.  These offsite improvements include the addition of sidewalks for pedestrians, in compliance with Policy C4 and promoting Policy CC10.  City staff views the use of a Development Agreement for review of this proposed project as supporting Policy C14.  Policy RC22 of the Comprehensive plan directs the City to maintain standards for development of land with slope gradients over 30 percent in accordance with policies in the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan. The requirement for this CUP demonstrates compliance with Policy RC22.

This proposal would conform with the requirements in the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan regarding identified ridgelines and the preservation of development constrained areas; the subject site is not identified in the Regional Plan as development constrained. 


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

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)


The impacts associated with development of the proposed Wildcreek High School, as well as the proposed mitigation measures, including offsite enhancements to public facilities and infrastructure, are addressed in detail in the section of the development agreement associated with PCN19-0007. City staff therefore believe that execution of the Development Agreement provides a reliable basis for finding that the proposed high school is compatible with the 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 development site is on land that has already been disturbed for development as a golf course.  Adaptive reuse of this site likely prevents other land, perhaps in a natural state, from being used for a new school.  The proposed high school will use less water than used for the golf course. This proposed high school is intended to relieve overcrowding at other WCSD high schools, supporting the existing population of Washoe County. The proposed pad will require grading and fill soil, but they have been minimized by the proposed location of the school.  The “cut and fill” illustration is attached as Exhibit 3.


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

SMC 20.04.011 governs the development of a site with slopes over 10 percent gradients over 25 percent of the site.  Exhibit 5 outlines the maximum disturbance allowed in each slope category and identifies the estimated disturbance in each category. This exhibit demonstrates general compliance with SMC 20.04.011, but due to the disturbance proposed in the 30 percent gradient or above category, non-constrained open space must be provided at a ratio of 2:1 (i.e., non-constrained open space must be at least twice the area of the disturbed area with a gradient of 30 percent or more). The identified disturbance in the 30 percent or greater category is 0.4 acres; requiring 0.8 acres to be preserved as open space in a category that provides for additional development.  A letter from Mark Casey of Wood Rogers, the consulting engineer for WCSD (Exhibit 7), identifies that an additional .8 acres will be preserved as open space in the category of slopes with a 0-15 percent grade to comply with the 2:1 requirement.  Condition 3 of CUP19-0004 requires this preservation of land.

Other impacts associated with development of the proposed Wildcreek High School, as well as the proposed mitigation measures, including off-site enhancements to public facilities and infrastructure, are discussed in detail in the section of this staff report addressing the Development Agreement. City staff therefore believe that execution of the Development Agreement provides a reliable basis for finding that the application, as submitted and condition, will address identified impacts.

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 development on a site over 10 acres in size having slope gradients of at least 10 percent or greater over at least 25 per of the site required individual public noticing. A total of 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

CUP19-0004 Hillside Development


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.


Within the Slope category of 0-15 percent, the deveoper shall dedicate 0.8 acres of land as undisturbed open space to account for exceeding the maximum amount of disturbance in the slope category of 30 percent or greater.  The 0.8 acres is to account for the 2:1 offset for exceeding the 30 percent slope category by 0.4 acres. 


The developer shall revegetate any disturbed area with native plants on the project property not utilized for school facilities. this includes the portion of the golf course on the parcel to be acquired by Washoe County School District not needed for school facilities.  prior to revegetation, a revegetation plan shall be submitted by Washoe County School District to the administrator for review and approval. 

  1. The City Council can approve CUP19-0004 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 CUP19-0004.

Recommended Motion:

I move to approve the Conditional Use Permit CUP19-0004 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 1-7.pdf
     02- Report of Action.pdf
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