The Daily Sparks Tribune
Friday, May 10, 2002

Regional Plan Update Approved

by Willie Albright
Tribune Staff

After nearly ten hours of public comment, the Regional Planning Governing Board voted 8-2 to adopt the Regional Plan Update that will put almost all of the developable land in the Truckee Meadows in the spheres of influence of Reno and Sparks. The Regional Planning Governing Board — made up of three elected officials each from Sparks and Washoe County, and four from Reno — was unable agree on one plan for this update, so the document contained different options.

Under the adopted plan favored by the cities, Sparks' sphere of influence will grow by 280 percent — from 7,592 acres to 21,449 acres — mainly by expanding 10 miles east along the Truckee River canyon. Reno's sphere will grow by more than 300 percent — from 8,614 acres to 29,424 — extending south through the rural area of pleasant Valley and west to the California border.

Washoe County Commissioner Joanne Bond joined the representatives from Sparks and Reno in voting to adopt the update. Sparks City Councilman Mike Carrigan said the update is a good compromise, even though it was hotly opposed by the rest of the commissioners and by many residents of the unincorporated county.

"We agreed to look at 35 amendments to the plan, most of which came from the county or from residents of the unincorporated area," Carrigan said, adding that he thought the whole update was a compromise.

The only people who came away upset are the ones who didn't get what they wanted," Carrigan said.

" The meeting went better than it could have, and I'm proud of the work we did." Carrigan said. Of the 222 people who either spoke or filled out comment cards, 145 were from the unincorporated areas and 77 people were from Reno. None came from Sparks.

Among the 35 issues to be addressed in the future are an agreement between the county and Sparks to jointly plan development of the East Truckee River Canyon and a proposal to keep the 1,000-acre Ballardini Ranch in southwest Reno as open space.*

These issues would be worked out at the planning commission level and returned to the RPGB for future action.

"We've got to start trusting each other at some point," Carrigan said. "
With this agreement, our governments will start working together better."

The expanded spheres of influence are the first stop toward annexation by the cities. The city of Reno contends that annexation is a fiscal equity issue. However, critics say the cities are running out of money and want to increase their tax base through forcible annexations that will destroy the character of rural communities and foster sprawl on an unprecedented scale.

The county has opposed expanding these spheres, saying it is concerned that too much of the proposal is aimed at capturing future property tax revenue to pay for existing commitments. The county is already exploring its legal options to block adoption of the update.

Washoe County's representatives to the Legislature have said they would introduce a bill in the next session aimed at dramatically scaling back the cities‚ annexation plans, but a preliminary review by the Legislative Counsel Bureau advised that, once the expanded spheres are approved, they would have to be shown as unconstitutional before they could be rolled back.

* NOTE -- The Ballardini Ranch is not among the 35 outstanding issues. Its status was decided in a 10-0 vote.

© 2002 The Daily Sparks Tribune, used by permission


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