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
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
-- The Ballardini Ranch is not among
the 35 outstanding issues. Its status was decided in a 10-0 vote.
The Daily Sparks Tribune, used by permission