Washoe County requiring developers to host community meetings
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Washoe County has established a new policy that requires developers of new projects to host neighborhood meetings prior to submitting project applications.
The new policy went into effect on Friday, April 8.
Assistant County Manager Dave Solero gave a presentation to the Incline Village Citizen’s Advisory Board on Monday, April 4, updating the committee on the neighborhood meeting hub site that was launched through Washoe County that gives residents a more in depth look at projects in their districts.
The process creates a flow for developers. They begin with talking to county planners and other agencies that may be involved in the process like the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, or other agencies that could provide input prior to development.
The development process will not be applied to single-family residences or properties that are splitting the parcel into four sections or less.
“Before a proposal is even brought forward in the form of an application to Washoe County, we are requesting that all developers come to Washoe County and discuss with staff their thoughts and ideas around what they are going to accomplish,” Solero said. “What we’re really trying to do is make sure that developers understand the requirements for Washoe County. The big requirement that is new is that the applicant must host a neighborhood meeting.”
The meeting will allow developers to hear community feedback prior to submitting an application or finalizing any plans, creating more communication between development companies and residents.
“This is a way for the developers and the community to meet before the time is expended for a developer or someone that owns that property to get too deep into a project where they feel they can change it based on input from the community,” Solero said.
CAB Chair Diane Becker expressed concern over developers not being required to attend CAB meetings prior to going forward with development in the past.
“We’ve been inviting developers who declined to come,” said Becker. “When they declined to come, they say they haven’t finalized what they’re going to do and what they’re going to be asking for. But for us in the community, it is that stage which we’d really like to give them input, which is before they are wedded to any particular direction.”
Solero suggested that part of the reason developers aren’t attending meetings could be from the, at times, hostile response from community members.
“I’ve got an example right now where we requested a developer in another neighborhood to come to the CAB after they had a neighborhood meeting,” Solero said. “They basically told us that their experience with the neighborhood meeting was so poor because of the way they were treated by the community, that they will not be going back to the CAB meeting to do the same thing.
“So we’re still really working through that process of what is the right approach for developer, someone that has property rights, to be able to come out in a non-hostile environment to be able to get the input that you all want to have with the developers and make this work out,” Solero added.
While new projects will be added to the Neighborhood Hub site, Solero explained that there are certain projects that are older and have grandfathered development rights, which he referred to as “poor projects.”
That means the projects can’t get the input from the community that newer projects can receive, since they already have prior entitlements to move forward.
“That doesn’t mean that some of the existing projects will get good developers that will come in and they want to listen to the community,” said Solero. “They want to listen to their neighbors. They want to make things better. But … there’s not a way to force a developer to come and have multiple meetings within the community.”
The site is still receiving feedback for improvements, and also offers the ability for residents to leave their feedback online for a project up to five days after it has been presented to the community. Additionally, anyone can sign up on for up-to-date information on developments to be emailed to them as soon as it is released.
“We are working through uncharted territory for Washoe County,” Solero said. “One thing I would like to request is just your patience as we go through this process. No process is perfect. We know that this process is not perfect, but we think it’s better and it’s responding to what we heard in the committee related to how development processes work.”
Following Solero’s presentation, Parametrix representatives Amy Cummings and Engineer Charles Allen gave a presentation on their current scope of work in regards to the Mobility Study that was recently started for the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area.
Parametrix will be using the CAB as an advisory group during the course of this study, and plan to come to CAB meetings every other month. Additionally, Cummings will be putting together a technical advisory group, which will consist of a staff of different agencies involved in planning and transportation on a regular basis.
“We want to be effective in listening to the community,” said Cummings. “The county knows that there are a lot of concerns. That’s why it was a priority for Washoe County to launch this study, so that we can really delve into some of the community concerns and questions and take a holistic look at transportation issues in Washoe County and the Tahoe Basin.”
Cummings said there will be a survey released to the public soon, as well as a website. Since a large scope of work from the team will be based off the Tahoe Area Plan, they will also be collaborating with agencies in the basin like the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Tahoe Transportation District, Placer County, RTC Washoe, and the Nevada Department of Transportation.
The scope of work that Cummings was looking for feedback on at the meeting began with snowplowing in the area, which is a major complaint among locals.
“What we’re going to be doing is documenting the existing practices and then reaching out to some other mountain resort communities to see the framework that is used in other place for prioritizing snowplowing or multi-use trails,” Cummings said.
The issue of jurisdiction plays a roll in plowing in Incline Village, since Washoe County is only responsible for county roads, but not State Route 28. The current prioritization of plowing sees county main roads maintained first, with residential roads and school routes following, and commercialized zones last.
Cummings is hoping to create more access for pedestrians that have trouble accessing walking paths during heavy snow periods.
Other scopes of work that the study is looking at include employer-based vehicles to production programs, which are programs that find ways to advance carpooling and transportation to work for residents.
“There are not currently any van pools that either go to or originate from Incline Village,” Cummings said. “So there may be an opportunity there to get the word out to folks.”
A van pool is a lease agreement with RTC Washoe which sees the agency pay for a portion of a van’s lease, along with the people planning to use the van pool and sometimes, even employers will chip in.
Each person involved in the pool can then use the van to drive with other people to work rather than using public transportation or their own vehicles.
Plans to look into micro-transit and moving people into other forms of transportation such as biking or ride-pooling, and ideas for parking management are all apart of the feedback that Cummings was looking for during her presentation.
Many comments centered around areas that residents and CAB members felt there could be improvement in the area. Washoe County Commissioner for District 1 Alexis Hill said that it’s important to be working together through this process since many of these topics overlapped in work being done for the community.
“We need to make sure we’re envisioning a new corridor and a new way for people to do commerce in Incline,” Hill said.
Cumming’s team will return to the CAB board in June to give updates on their work.
To learn more about the Neighborhood Mobility Hub, visit washoecounty.gov/csd/planning_and_development/neighborhood-meetings.php.
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