Master plan process to end soon

Carson City employees, hired consultants and an army of residents have been working on the city's master plan " and talking with other Carsonites about its contents " for more than a year.

Today, an array of changes in master plan land-use designations are being brought to the Carson City Board of Supervisors for approval. This meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

People who wish to comment will have to do so during this and two more public meetings, city planning employees emphasized.

"It's a guide for the future," said Lee Plemel, the city's principal planner.

The idea is to reach consensus among those who consider themselves growth proponents, preservationists, open space advocates and representatives of other varying interests contained in a community, he said.

Once this consensus is reached, parameters of regulations should "fall somewhere in the middle," Plemel said.

The last version of the city's master plan was approved in 1996. Others were adopted in 1958, 1978 and 1983. The version, now in its final draft, probably is the most reviewed group of comprehensive planning documents the city has ever assembled.

Called "Envision Carson City," the plan is separated into three parts: The Comprehensive Master Plan, Unified Pathways Master Plan and Parks and Recreation Master Plan. There also are an array of special reports and several specific plan areas. These are locations where there are unique concerns about development, growth or uses.

While the documentation itself and certain contents are required by law, the law limits the number of changes within any given year, Plemel said. Most communities do a new plan every 10 years and a major update about five years after a plan's adoption.

And the documents are not law, he emphasized. Master planning is policy; zoning is regulation.

"Nothing changes unless you change the zoning," Plemel said. "And prescribed (land) uses stay the same until a property owner seeks to change use. And most residential areas here have stayed the same."

City employees also find themselves repeatedly addressing: Population growth and development can't be stopped by government. It can be managed, however, by creating such things as planning documents and myriad other tools.

Carson City actually isn't growing very fast, though its surrounding communities are undergoing significant growth. This is why traffic moving through the city, for example, has become heavier, Plemel said.

"Density is a relative term," said Juan Guzman, the city's open space manager. The large number of rural residential areas settings dotting the more compact core add to the view of this being a rural community.

"Carson City residents perceive 'medium' density as relatively high," Plemel discovered.

This is why infill, the concept of developing on empty lots or other existing sites within the urban area, including redevelopment efforts, and new land-uses are encouraged in certain areas, especially downtown. At the same time, it's equally important to preserve rural neighborhoods and open space in others, Plemel and Guzman noted.

And while the city is expected to reach build-out with a population of 75,000 within the next 20 years, the time span addressed within these documents, the city has enough water to quench the thirsts of current and future residents for many years to come, said Walt Sullivan, director of the city's planning and community development division.

The city's Planning Division will present its master plan documents to officials at: 5:30 p.m. March 27 to the Planning Commission for recommendation, and 8:30 a.m. April 6 to the Supervisors for final approval.

n Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment