Sparks City Council Workshop 10/22/2012 12:00:00 PM

    Monday, October 22, 2012 12:00 PM
    Sparks City Hall, Lower Level

Item Number: 3

Title: Presentation, discussion, and possible direction regarding the Sparks zoning code assessment.
Petitioner/Presenter: City of Sparks/Jim Rundle, Senior Planner
Recommendation: Provide staff direction regarding the recommendations from the zoning code analysis conducted by staff and Clarion Associates.
Financial Impact: na
Business Impact (Per NRS 237):
A Business Impact Statement is not required because this is not a rule.
Agenda Item Brief: This past March, the City Council approved a contract with Clarion Associates to provide an analysis of the Sparks zoning code. Staff, along with Clarion and CFA, reviewed the code and interviewed stakeholders including the City Council, members of the Planning Commission, and members of the development community. Clarion’s report outlines barriers to development and outlines recommendations for potential amendments to the code to remove such barriers.

Background: The City of Sparks elected to conduct an analysis of the chapter of its municipal code and development (Title 20). The purpose of the analysis is to identify 1) potential barriers to development that may exist and 2) recommend potential ways in which these barriers may be addressed through subsequent updates of the code. This analysis is phase two of a three “track” approach initiated in response to the City Council’s direction to remove zoning code barriers to development. Phase one (completed) analyzed and made “quick fix” amendments “in house.” Phase three would be the comprehensive overhaul of regulations affecting development. In August, the City Council received a presentation from the Clarion regarding some of the early findings of the study. This report provides a detailed analysis of their findings and makes recommendations. This agenda item is a presentation of the draft findings and recommendations by Clarion, CFA of Reno, and staff of the analysis of the City’s zoning code and the input they received from stakeholders. Staff is looking for direction from the Sparks City Council regarding these recommendations.

Analysis: Our team conducted a general review of the Title 20, including the TOD zoning and development standards, and design standards manual. The team also conducted stakeholder interviews which included a variety of development stakeholders in the community. From these interviews there was a basic theme, a balance between flexibility and predictability yet ensure that the city does not compromise quality of design that it has worked so hard to obtain. There are five areas which received special consideration: TOD, Planned Developments, Special Use Permits, Nonconformities, and Master Plan Amendments. A summary of recommendations has been included beginning on page 3 of the Clarion/CFA report. More detailed analysis of each recommendation follows this summary. The recommendations include reducing entitlement requirements, permitting uses by right (potentially with use standards), reducing the time to get approvals, extending time once approvals are granted, and empowering staff to make more decisions formerly done through public hearings. Proposals which staff needs direction from the Council are in regard to the Industrial area, TOD/auto oriented uses, major deviations and Special Use Permits. Among the issues and recommendations addressed in the report, City staff wish to direct the City Council’s attention to, and are seeking Council direction regarding, several policy questions in particular: • Land use in the Industrial Area. Pages 14 and 15 of the report focus on the industrial area. The Sparks industrial area located between I-80 and the Truckee River includes numerous buildings that are, from a modern warehousing, distribution or manufacturing perspective, functionally obsolete. Some of these properties are also burdened by a location within the flood zone. Rather than replace these buildings with new ones, many owners are seeking other types of users for this space. During the 2009 zoning update for the Industrial area, the Council directed staff to allow for commercial uses along major corridors. Since then the City has processed numerous applications for special use permits to allow for recreational and other uses. Such uses often pose challenges for the industrial uses in the vicinity due to differences in parking demand, the mixing of truck and auto traffic, and by bringing more people, including children, into close proximity with industrial processes and materials such as chemicals. In addition, while alternative users such as recreational facilities may find rents for industrial space to be attractive, the change of use often involves expensive building modifications that the user has failed to anticipate. The question posed here is whether the Council wishes to retain the existing standards, allow more non-industrial uses, or limit the area to industrial types of uses. • As part of Sparks’ redevelopment strategy and vision for the Prater Way and Victorian Avenue corridors, past City Councils going back to at least the 1990s adopted a policy of phasing out certain auto-oriented uses such as auto/vehicle repair and sales along these corridors. The TOD furthered the policy of phasing out auto-oriented uses in this corridor. The TOD’s theme is higher density, which can support transit, promotes walkability and the evolution over time of neighborhoods with a mix of uses. Explanations of advantages and disadvantages to TOD are discussed on pages 33-36. The current City Council has indicated that it may want to revisit this policy and so staff is looking for direction on the future of TOD in Sparks. • Major deviation tool. The analysis also provides for the possibility of adding a “major” deviation as a tool. This concept is explained on pages 39 and 40. The major deviation tool could be used to modify a setback, for example, that exceeds what our current minor deviation allows us to modify. This tool could have been used in working with Now Foods as opposed to requiring the variance. It is rare that staff can support a variance based on the finding of a “hardship” whereas a major deviation may be considered based on its appropriateness of a particular issue. • Special use permit expansion. The analysis discusses (on page 40) utilization of the special use permit to permit uses not listed in the zoning district. This could provide maximum flexibility and may encourage development but could reduce predictability

Alternatives: The City Council may propose to have staff work on further alternatives to what has been outlined in the report.

Recommended Motion: I move to recommend staff implement the zoning code changes as discussed by the City Council.

Attached Files:
     Zoning Code Assessment presentation.pdf
     Sparks Assessment Rpt_Review_Draft_Sept 17_clean.pdf
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