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Reno City Council votes to approve the Southeast Connector



reno-logo-2910566-5744013After a lengthy public hearing, the Reno City Council supported the recommendations of the Reno Planning Commission to approve special use permits and variances for the Southeast Connector Phase 2 as long as certain conditions are met. The vote was 4 (Mayor Cashell, Council member’s Dwight Dortch, Neoma Jardon and Sharon Zadra) to 3 (Council members Jenny Brekus, Hillary Schieve and Oscar Delgado).

This is a request for (1) a special use permit to (a) allow grading with fills of 10 feet or more, (b) disturbance of a major drainage way and (c) protection of significant hydrological recourses in the Cooperative Planning Area Overlay District and (2) a variance to (a) allow encroachment in a floodway and (b) raise the water surface elevation in a portion of Critical Flood Zone 1 to construct the Southeast Connector Regional Roadway.

The project extends about three and a half miles north from the South Meadows/Veterans Parkway intersection to Pembroke Drive about a mile east of its intersection with McCarran Boulevard. The site has Master Plan land use designations of Unincorporated Transition, Single Family Residential and Parks/Recreation/Open Space.

Upper Southeast Communities Coalition Incorporated Chairperson Kim Rhodemyre and Attorney Stephen C. Mollath, representing Butler Ranch, appealed the decision of the Reno City Planning Commission.

Representatives for the Regional Transportation Commission and city staff addressed all of the concerns raised by those appealing the project and any Council concerns. These concerns included the mitigation of mercury on the proposed construction site; the mitigation of wetlands being impacted by the project; the protection of open space; weed management, the project impacts on the current flood elevations and flood storage areas; potential sound walls required by the projects noise study; increased access to and from the residential areas east of the project during a flood event; how the project impacts the flood elevations in conjunction with the proposed USACE and Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA) flood project; the estimated volume of truck traffic; regional traffic modeling and the importance of the SEC to the regional roadway network; the ability of RTC to obtain property through eminent domain as it relates to the Butler Ranch property; and the status of the USACE Section 404 review.

The Southeast Connector (formerly the Tahoe-Pyramid Link) has been planned for this area since 1964. The purpose of the roadway is to create a north-south regional linkage between the south Truckee Meadows and the city of Sparks. The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) both state that the existing roadway network is insufficient and that the need for the SEC is an important regional connectivity project. Specifically, the continued growth of the south Truckee Meadows is causing the existing road network to be insufficient for future needs. The north-south connection has been in discussion within the Truckee Meadows for close to 50 years.

The project will go before the Regional Planning Commission in January to determine if it is in conformance with the Regional Plan as a Project of Regional Significance.

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