Smart Growth

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The debate about the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan dates back several years, but things really started to heat up in 2002 when both Reno and Sparks extended their future boundaries.
Washoe County was ready to go to court, saying the spheres of influence were too big.

John Hester, the city of Reno community director, says a lengthy court battle followed, and recently ended with all parties being told they had to sit down and write out an agreeable plan.
"Part of the settlement is that we would prepare a plan that would give Reno, Sparks, and the County would identify our growth areas. So, that's what we proposed, that happened, that the regional planning commission heard last night."

Fred Lokken, the chairman of the planning commission, says the growth plan looks ahead 25 years.
The city of Reno, for example, is expected to have a 2-and-1/2 percent population growth during that time and it was agreed 12-thousand additional acres would be needed.
Sparks planned for 16-thousand additional acres.

But, Lokken says the planning commission and many residents believe the decision happened too fast.
He says since it was in court, it avoided many of the usual public hearings.
"The process used to create these proposed amendments comes from court proceedings, and sort of bi-passed the public role. And, we were saying last night, we would prefer this be a public dialogue because of the implications of the requests."

Hester says he understands why the planning commission made their decision.
"I think that's one of the problems when you take a legislative process, like planning, and put it into the courts. You end up with maybe a good result, but a process that people weren't happy with."

Whether it's the process or the progress, the cities and county hope that the amendments are passed and more lengthy court battles can be avoided, at least for now.
Two of the possible stakeholders did appeal the decision Thursday afternoon to the regional planning governing board.
The board has agreed to hear the appeal at next Thursday night's meeting.