The council heard testimony from Sparks residents and business owners who both supported and opposed the project, and by the end of the discussion each council member voting said the decision was purely legal. The council agreed to affirm the planning commission’s decision based on city staff’s evaluation of the more than 30 conditions required by Sparks Legends Development, Inc. in the special-use permit, which included about $7 million to improve a neighboring Sparks street.
Councilman Mike Carrigan, who was the lone ‘no’ vote when the decision to include Walmart in the original Legends plans was up for discussion, said Walmart may not be the most popular choice to go in the vacant lot, but it does serve a purpose.
“This store is going in there to pay the bills,” Carrigan said.
Councilman Ed Lawson echoed Carrigan’s thoughts.
“Walmart is not my first choice,” Lawson said, “But they do a lot of good things for good people. We are trying to salvage the tax dollars. That’s all we are doing here.”
Sparks resident Mike Russow appealed the planning commission’s decision in a letter to Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and the City Council in December, saying the approval of the project would have a “significant negative impact” on the quality of life in Sparks. Russow said increased traffic during daily trips would hamper commute times in the area of the proposed Walmart, which would be located on the nearly 18-acre parcel of land near Marina Gateway Drive, south of Lincoln Way.
Russow cited “significant” light and noise pollution coming from the proposed Walmart through ample lighting surrounding the facility, and deliveries coming at various times of day, for his disapproval. He added that decreased property value in the surrounding neighborhood and potential danger to small businesses would come as a result of the Walmart.
“I would like the city to consider the potential negative cumulative economic impact that the likely closure of several small businesses would have on the local economy should the supercenter open,” Russow wrote. “I would also like the city to consider the likelihood that these newly vacant storefronts will not easily attract new tenants and may stay vacant for some time thus attracting vagrants, crime, mischief and graffiti.”
City of Sparks Senior Planner Tim Thompson said the staff addressed a few concerns before completion of the special-use permit, including traffic, access and circulation, loading/delivery, screening, noise and architecture. Traffic analysis shows more than 9,000 average daily trips associated with the proposed Walmart, according to Thompson.
Traffic impacts will be solved through the widening of Marina Gateway Drive from two lanes to four lanes from E. Prater to E. Lincoln ways. Capacity improvements will be done to multiple streets that will include protected turn lanes and extended turn lanes in the area.
The noise conflict will be solved through sound walls at least 75 feet back from the nearest residential structure, which only lies on the west side of the property at Marina Village and Sparks Marina Park. No deliveries to the Walmart will be made between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and all on-site maintenance, sweeping and snow removal can only be done between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Barry Shannahan, executive vice president of acquisitions for Red Development, said he was pleased with the number of retailers who have joined Legends in the past 18 months, accounting for 55,000 square feet of property. He told the Planning Commission in November that he, and the team of architects on the project, was willing to work with the surrounding neighborhood to ensure they are happy with the sound barrier.
The Sparks City Council also approved a contract for the Victorian Square Garage Elevator Upgrades to Koch Elevator Company, which will install new motion controllers, power units, fixtures, door operators and starters in the downtown garage. The upgrades will cost about $142,000
John Martini, assistant director of community services, said the parts needing replacement are “unreliable” and were “creating costly repairs.” Two passenger elevators will be renewed as part of the project.
Martini said some parts for the upgrades were no longer being manufactured and would need to be refurbished purchases in order to bring the elevators up to state code.
“A full removal and replacement of the existing motion controllers, power units, door operators, and solid state starters is required,” Martini said. “At the same time, new lighting fixtures for the cars will be installed that are more efficient and designed to be vandal proof.”