North Valleys Residents Skeptical of Airport Development Plans

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North Valleys CABAfter a presentation by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s Stacie Huggins last night at the North Valleys Community Advisory Board (CAB), residents expressed frustration at the Airport Authority’s beginning stages of planning for commercial development on Reno-Stead Airport property.

Chief concerns expressed by residents focused on increased traffic to and from the North Valleys, increased commercial traffic in residential areas, potential property value reductions and a lack of available water.

Click to enlarge map.
Click to enlarge map.

Huggins said the efforts to date, including a market assessment and financial feasibility being conducted by Dermody Properties after a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) was solicited by the Authority last year, are preliminary.

The airport property was zoned for commercial, industrial and office-space development in 2003 by the Reno City Council as part of a master planning process.

“We own the property,” Huggins said. She stressed that no plans have been developed yet other than to hold community meetings to outline the progress of the RFQ for real-estate development.

Any development would not affect the air races, she said. “The objective of the RFQ was to generate economic benefit to the region and create new jobs for the community.”

IMG_2707A standing-room only crowd gathered at the CAB meeting to express displeasure at the prospect of development at the Reno-Stead Airport.

City of Reno activities that affect unincorporated Washoe County have been a source of contention for North Valleys residents. Cited examples include the Petco facility being built in the North Valleys, and the Amazon Fulfillment Center, both of which, residents said, broke ground before county authorities and residents were even notified of development plans.

Plans for the Reno-Stead Airport are published in the June 2003 Reno-Stead Airport Regional Center Plan. At that time, planning decisions were outlined for a 20-year period:

“The main focus of the Reno-Stead Airport Regional Center Plan is to further the development of the Reno-Stead Airport and to promote non-residential development in appropriate locations. This Reno-Stead Airport Regional Center Plan recognizes and plans for the unique land use compatibility issues associated with development near a large airport….

“…The Development Concept anticipates the Stead Airport becoming an increasingly important regional employment center in the next 20 years. The planned increase in employment capacity will provide additional opportunities for Stead residents to work near their home. Over time, new employment opportunities in Stead should help address traffic congestion during the rush hour commute to and from central Reno.

“The Mixed-Use District will contain facilities directly associated with airport operations (i.e., runways, airplane hangers, terminal buildings, etc.). Other airport compatible developments may also be located within the Mixed-Use District. Appropriate land uses include industrial, office, commercial and public facility developments. Residential development, and other airport incompatible land uses (schools, churches, etc.), are not allowed within the Reno-Stead Airport Regional Center Plan. In addition, the minimum non-residential intensities that are identified in the Regional Plan (1.5 floor-area ratio) do not apply within this Regional Center Plan because safety and noise concerns generally make high occupancy land uses incompatible with airport operations. The airport critical zone requires low occupancy land uses and sound-attenuating construction methods in key overflight areas.

“The Residential Buffer District is intended to provide an open space area between nonresidential development within this Regional Center Plan and nearby residential areas. Properties in the Residential Buffer District will be retained as open space. Small scale developments, such as recreational and utility facilities may also be appropriate in the Residential Buffer District, subject to limitations of the City’s Open Space zoning district. Prior to buildout of land uses identified in this Reno-Stead Airport Regional Center Plan, increased quantities of potable water will be needed in the Stead area. The Regional Water Planning Commission is exploring water supply options for the Stead area. Water importation, effluent re-use and/or new water conservation measures will likely be necessary.”

Disclosure: I serve on the North Valleys Community Advisory Board.

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Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.