If the City Council approves the amendment to the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan at its Feb. 28 meeting, the ETRC will revert to Washoe County jurisdiction, becoming part of its Rural Development Area (RDA).
RDAs do not require a provision of municipal services.
The Planning Commission’s recommendation also allows the city to avoid a possible hearing before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Voters for Sensible Growth (VSG), a citizens advocacy group, had planned to file suit if the city decided to pursue development of the ETRC.
“Basically, our problem is they were breaking state annexation law,” said Erik Holland, president of VSG.
Holland said the suit would be dropped if the City Council moves to “de-annex” the ETRC.
The area was originally adopted into the city’s purview in 2002 and first designated for residential and retail development.
Last year, officials approved contracts to begin developing land use, policy and infrastructure plans for about one-third of the 9,900 acres within the ETRC. A corridor along Interstate 80 from Vista Boulevard to USA Parkway accounted for most of the developable land.
Studies found that at least one fire station, and as many as three, plus a full-time police beat, would be needed if the city were to pursue robust development in the area.
When including street maintenance, traffic signal and sewer line expenses, minimum costs for these public safety services were estimated at $4.9 million. However, projected revenues would only account for about half that total.
City planners then went to work on a heavier development model to see if a revenue-neutral opportunity existed.
Studies report that maximum build-out and development of the area–which includes proposals for a solar power plant, several data centers and more than 500 acres of office space–would generate less than $5 million in city revenues resulting from property taxes, licenses and fees. Meanwhile, these options pushed service costs in excess of $11 million.
“Even under a very aggressive plan for development, revenue would not cover costs,” said Armando Ornelas, city planner.
And because the city already faces a $4.6 million budget deficit, there is little desire to engage in what officials are calling “risky” development.
“At urban levels of service, it doesn’t makes sense” to develop the ETRC, said Neil Krutz, community development director.
Full disclosure: Erik Holland is a cartoonist for the Sparks Tribune.