Code changes headed for review by supervisors |

Code changes headed for review by supervisors

Kelli Du Fresne

Carson City Regional Planning commissioners opened one door to allow a utility substation to be built on publicly zoned property.

Commissioners recommended Monday changes to the city’s municipal code. If approved, the change would permit an earlier request from Sierra Pacific Power Company to locate a substation on 80 acres of Carson City Airport property off Arrowhead Drive, subject to a special-use permit.

Community Development Director Walt Sullivan said the changes will likely be considered by the Carson City Board of Supervisors in March. If approved by supervisors, they will become part of the city’s zoning law.

A series of technical problems caused the power company to withdraw its request.

City Manager John Berkich asked the commission to call a special meeting to consider the ordinance changes.

Berkich said the changes were in his opinion necessary for the well-being of Carson City residents.

“Without the substation, the power company tells me their peak-day demands cannot be met,” said Berkich. “I requested a process that was legally correct and provided oversight. The language proposed by staff make a lot of sense and creates a lot of flexibility.”

The ordinance changes affect all publicly zoned lands throughout Carson City.

Lands in the public zone are almost always owned by the city, state or federal government. However, the uses of the lands are often under private control, such as the operation of private businesses at the Carson City Airport.

“I’m hinging my comfort with this amendment on the special-use permit process,” said Chairman Verne Horton. “This doesn’t eliminate that process in any way.”

If the code is changed by supervisors next month, the key to residents’ concerns with any future application by the power company to build the substation at 1200 Arrowhead Dr. rests in the permit process.

Residents’ concerns about lighting, buffer zones, health and safety, property values are to be evaluated by the commission, which can require the company to change its plans to address residents’ concerns. The use is also to be judged on its consistency with the city’s master plan and on whether it will be detrimental to the peaceful enjoyment of the neighborhood.

The judgment of these conditions rests with the planning commission and it is the burden of Sierra Pacific to prove the project complies with the six requirements of the permit.

Any decision by the commission can be appealed to the board of supervisors.

Uses allowed by special use permit in the public zoning district


-Child care facility

-Civic auditorium and theater

-Historic site



-Military site

-Municipal well facility




-Public parking

-Recreational vehicle park


-Waste water treatment facility

-Water, oil gas or geothermal drilling operations

City wants to:

-Add “Public utility buildings, structures or appurtenances for public services and uses” to the above list.

-Remove public from public parking.

-Remove language from the code that says a uses requiring special uses permits aren’t permitted if listed for use in another district.

-Redefines public zone to allow for development on public lands for a variety of uses by public and for-profit entities.

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