Projections indicate Carson City's population will grow and become grayer.
Officials expect the city to reach a population of 75,000 within the next 20 years. The number of seniors living here also will increase substantially.
These two trends will have "a major impact on how we design out communities," said Lee Plemel, the city's principal planner.
He told Planning Commissioners on Wednesday that other communities are dealing with this by encouraging mixed-use development. Combinations of residential, retail and commercial uses are becoming viable - and visible - in many communities across the country, he said.
The U.S. population is expected to reach 66 million people older than 65 by 2030 - almost double the number in the early 1990s.
Mixed-use neighborhoods will allow seniors - and other people who don't like having to drive - to walk to stores and other businesses. It's a design movement dubbed "walkable urbanity," Plemel said.
The city devised some mixed-use policies for its master plan adopted this year, and is planning for these types of developments along major traffic corridors and the bypass.
And work continues on a mixed-use code for downtown, to begin circulating around the community early next year. Discussion about implementing mixed-use zoning is expected to follow, Plemel told the commissioners.
Different uses don't necessarily have to be combined in one building; they can be in neighboring structures or even across the street from one another. And the buildings can be single- or multi-story buildings, Plemel said.
Ensuring areas are created so residents have adequate pedestrian access to services and public transit is crucial, said Walter Sullivan, the city's community development director.
Commissioner Steve Reynolds warned that some developers might see mixed-use as "a fast lane to higher density."
Reynolds also stressed the need for buffer zones between neighborhoods where mixed uses occur. At least, said Commissioner Craig Mullet, areas between high- and low-density neighborhoods will need to be designed "transitionally" - with open layouts - to allow for gradual changes in density.
Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
In other business
The proposal for a building at Governors Field where youth baseball and softball league players can practice pitching and hitting indoors was postponed. The owner of nearby property had noise and traffic concerns about the plan so it will be brought back later, according to the Parks and Recreation Department.
Final approval was given to the proposed federal lands bill. The proposal is scheduled to be considered by the Board of Supervisors in January.