The City of Sparks Comprehensive Plan replaced what was previously known as the Sparks Master Plan after Planning Commission approval on August 18, 2016 and City Council certification on October 24, 2016. The planning process was branded “Ignite Sparks,” and was the most extensive public engagement effort in Sparks’ planning history. This community-wide outreach initiative gathered citizen input to articulate a vision for Sparks and guide the development of Comprehensive Plan goals and policies.
Pursuant to state law, the Comprehensive Plan and any amendments thereto must conform to the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan. The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Commission found the currently adopted Comprehensive Plan in conformance with the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan in September of 2016.
In October of 2019, the Regional Planning Governing Board adopted the 2019 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan (“Regional Plan”), which replaced the 2012 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan. Under state law, local governments must submit their comprehensive plans for conformance review within 60 days after each statutorily required five-year update to the regional plan. The City of Sparks submitted its Comprehensive Plan to the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA) for a conformance review in November of 2019.
TMRPA found the Sparks Comprehensive Plan to be in conformance with the Regional Plan in April of 2020 but provided the City of Sparks a list of scheduled additions to fully implement the policy framework of the Regional Plan (Exhibit 1 – List of Scheduled Additions). TMRPA provided the City of Sparks one year from adoption of the Regional Plan to prepare amendments to the Sparks Comprehensive Plan addressing the scheduled additions.
On September 17, 2020, the Planning Commission held a workshop to review draft amendments to the Sparks Comprehensive Plan addressing the scheduled additions and certain other topics. Following review and discussion, the Planning Commission requested staff consider the following topics in a revised draft of the Comprehensive Plan:
• Transit funding for the City’s Mixed-Use District and Mixed-Use Core as defined in the Regional Plan.
• Utilization of the Comprehensive Plan by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for transit planning.
• Identification of Rock Boulevard as a roadway for a future RTC corridor study.
• Modification of policies and text related to the protection and management of cultural resources to address state law and procedures and the addition of a new policy related to collaboration with tribal governments to identify, monitor and protect cultural resources during planning processes.
• Prioritize the creation of an historic district.
On November 5, 2020, the Planning Commission approved amendments to the Sparks Comprehensive Plan addressing the scheduled additions and other topics, including amendments addressing most of the topics requested by the Planning Commission listed above (Exhibit 2 - Planning Commission Report of Action). Amendments regarding the creation of an historic district and the addition of a new policy on working collaboratively with tribal governments to identify, monitor, and protect cultural resources during planning processes were not included due to staffing and schedule constraints. The Planning Commission supports revisiting these policy topics during the next update of the Comprehensive Plan.
On January 28, 2021, the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) held a public hearing and reviewed the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. The RPC determined that the amendments conform with the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan. The Comprehensive Plan as approved by the Planning Commission is attached as Exhibit 3.
A summary of the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan as approved by the Planning Commission and an analysis of the applicable findings for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan are provided below.
The amendments to the Comprehensive Plan (Exhibit 3 – Planning Commission Approved Draft) primarily address changes needed to conform to the 2019 Regional Plan. However, general updates and a limited number of targeted policy changes are also included. Proposed text changes are shown using a “track changes” format.
The general updates are needed for maintenance of the plan as the Comprehensive Plan has not been updated, other than property-specific changes to the Land Use Map, since 2016.
The targeted policy changes are intentionally limited in scope and focused on topics that could be addressed while still complying with TMRPA’s timeframe for scheduled additions. As proposed, the targeted policy changes:
• formalize practices and approaches related to voluntary annexation requests, use of development agreements, and sidewalk facilities;
• add flood-related policies that were inadvertently omitted in the 2016 Comprehensive Plan;
• identify the need for Greg Street and Rock Boulevard corridor studies and Victorian Avenue bicycle facility improvements;
• clarify how to evaluate non-residential land use amendments in relation to land supply; and
• add or modify policies and text related to cultural resources and use of the Comprehensive Plan to inform the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
A summary of the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan (Exhibit 3 – Planning Commission Approved Draft) is provided below and organized by the following three categories:
1. 2019 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan conformance;
2. general updates; and
3. targeted policy changes.
2019 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan Conformance
The following changes to Chapter 4 policies and narrative descriptions are included in the Comprehensive Plan approved by the Planning Commission.
• New language is added to address a new Regional Plan policy regarding land use compatibility.
• Changes to the Mixed-Use District description reflect the shift in emphasis in the Regional Plan from regional centers and transit-oriented development corridors to the Mixed-Use Core. The minimum floor area ratio (FAR) is lowered to 0.25 in the Mixed-Use District - Mixed-Use Commercial (MUD-MUC) land use category, as allowed by the new Regional Plan (Land Use Category tables, Chapter 4).
• The description of Regional Considerations identifies the new regional land use framework (i.e., tiering) and compliance with applicable density requirements. Greater detail regarding the role transit service investment plays in supporting the growth and investment priorities of the Regional Plan and the City’s Mixed-Use District is also included in this section.
• Cooperative planning areas are removed based on their deletion from the Regional Plan.
• Emerging Employment Centers (EEC) and Policy MG3 regarding the retention of EEC’s in the Managing Growth section of Chapter 4 are deleted due to their removal from the Regional Plan.
• New policies and revisions to existing policies are included in the Community Services section to comply with Regional Plan policies related to regional utility corridors.
• Policy H6 in the Housing and Affordability section is modified to address future utilization of the Regional Strategy for Housing Affordability in updates to the City of Sparks Housing Plan.
• Policy RC28, added to the Resiliency and Conservation section, addresses the treatment of slopes with gradients between 15 and 30 percent. This policy is consistent with the Sparks Municipal Code.
• Figures, maps, and statistics are updated to reflect the most current data available.
• Descriptions of City of Sparks and Regional Transportation Commission projects are updated to reflect their 2020 status.
• A description of the long-term facility plan underway for the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility is included in the Community Facilities and Services section of Chapter 4.
• A summary of the 2019 Long-Term Fiscal Health Analysis is included in the Managing Growth section of Chapter 4.
• The Land Use Category tables in Chapter 4 are updated to remove outdated references and delete land use categories in place prior to the adoption of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan.
Targeted Policy Changes
• The Archeological Sites description in Chapter 3 is modified to reference controlling state law for burial site discovery procedures and antiquities. Additionally, Policy RC31 in the Resiliency and Conservation section of Chapter 4 is revised to identify entities involved in protecting, and minimizing the potential impacts of development on, cultural resources.
• Policy MG3 in Chapter 4 is modified to clarify that when evaluating non-residential land use amendments, the supply of land for employment-generating uses should be analyzed on a citywide basis.
• Three policies addressing annexation (Policies MG7 – MG9) are added in Chapter 4 to address: the processing of voluntary annexation requests in relation to Regional Plan amendments; the utilization of development agreements in conjunction with annexation requests; and annexations required to permit more intense development.
• Policy C4 is modified to include the preferred approach to sidewalk facilities for greenfield development sites and previously developed areas.
• Greg Street and a portion of Rock Boulevard (from Victorian Avenue to McCarran Boulevard) are identified as desired future RTC corridor studies; a new policy (C6) addressing Victorian Avenue bicycle facility improvements is added in the Connectivity section of Chapter 4.
• A new policy (C11) is included in the Connectivity section describing how the City of Sparks should work with TMRPA when the RTP is reviewed for conformance with the Regional Plan. Consistent with Regional Plan Policy PF10, Policy C11 specifies that preferred street design, transit system location and operations, and transportation investment priorities identified in the Sparks Comprehensive Plan are to be utilized when the TMRPA reviews the RTP. As written, Policy C11 relies on the statutory Regional Plan conformance review process to ensure transportation improvements for multiple travel modes as identified in the Comprehensive Plan are considered in the RTP.
• Six new policies are added to the Resiliency and Conservation section of Chapter 4, and Policy RC15 is converted to Goal RC5, to address various flood-related goals and policies that were not incorporated in the Comprehensive Plan in 2016. In addition, a new Critical Zone (flood) map is included in Chapter 3.
• Goal RC4 is modified and a new policy (RC23) is included in the Resiliency and Conservation section of Chapter 4 to address pandemic preparedness.
Comprehensive Plan Amendment Findings
Finding CP1: The proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment would be in conformance with the Regional Plan land use and intensity designation.
No changes to the Comprehensive Plan land use designations for individual properties are proposed. Therefore, an analysis of a specific Regional Plan land use and intensity designations (i.e., “tiering”) is not necessary or provided.
The proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan do, however, include changes to the Regional Considerations description in Chapter 4 to identify the new regional land use framework (i.e., tiering) and compliance with applicable density requirements, necessary to satisfy Scheduled Additions 2, 3 and 5 (Exhibit 1 - List of Scheduled Additions).
Finding CP2: The Comprehensive Plan amendment would implement the goals listed within the Sparks Comprehensive Plan as listed in the staff report.
The proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan add, modify or delete three goals and 27 policies. These deletions, and the reasons for doing so, are discussed in the Analysis section above. As drafted, the revised Comprehensive Plan approved by the Planning Commission furthers implementation of the goals of the adopted plan and provides for conformance with the 2019 Truckee Meadows Regional Plan.
If the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan are certified, the amended goals and policies will be utilized to evaluate future Comprehensive Plan amendments.
Finding CP3: The Comprehensive Plan Amendment would be compatible with surrounding land uses.
No changes to any Comprehensive Plan land use designations for individual properties are proposed. Therefore, an analysis of surrounding land uses is not necessary or provided.
Finding CP4: Public notice was given and a public hearing held per the requirements of Nevada Revised Statutes and Sparks Municipal Code.
Public notice for the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan was published in the Reno Gazette-Journal on October 21, 2020, and February 22, 2021. The Planning Commission and City Council meetings function as public hearings for this matter as required by the Nevada Revised Statutes.
A neighborhood meeting pursuant to NRS 278.210(2) is not required because no changes to the assignment of Comprehensive Plan land use designations to individual properties are proposed.