Residential motel demolition clears hurdle with Carson City Planning Commission

Emerson Townhomes off College Parkway will include 37 single-family detached houses with tandem parking garages.

Emerson Townhomes off College Parkway will include 37 single-family detached houses with tandem parking garages.

The Planning Commission approved a plan to demolish one of Carson City’s residential motels in order to build transitional housing for participants in a new jobs program.

The commission on Wednesday voted to approve a special use permit for Friends in Service Helping (FISH) to tear down the Whistle Stop Inn near FISH’s office and thrift store to build a 36-unit apartment complex with a 3,008-square-foot commercial space required on Carson Street.

FISH plans to provide the apartments for people going through a new program called Realizing Opportunities for the American Dream to Succeed. ROADS puts workers earning minimum wage through certificate programs at Western Nevada College in order to move them into higher-paying careers. The program is a cooperative effort involving FISH, Capital City C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative, Northern Nevada Development Authority, and WNC.

The permit is needed to put apartments in a retail commercial zone, but also at issue was FISH’s plan to build about half the parking required by municipal code. FISH says its low-income tenants will have fewer cars and FISH will provide shuttle service for them between home and the college.

FISH must also demonstrate the design complies with landscaping and open space requirements before it can start construction.

“There will be a play area for kids and bike storage and onsite management for the program,” said Jim Peckham, executive director, FISH, addressing some other concerns raised during the discussion.

The commissioners unanimously backed the project, including the reduced parking.

“I believe this is an excellent project. I do feel like we need to focus on this particular demographic more than what we do and I’m appreciative of this proposal and strongly support it,” said Hope Tingle, commission member.

The commission also approved an 81-unit apartment complex to be built on Brown Street property sold by the city to Dwight Millard. The 2.78-acre site was intended to be developed as affordable housing, but the city was never able to find a developer to build it.

Linda Buchanan, who operates Catmandu, a cat rescue group on Brown Street, spoke during public comment with concerns about traffic and flooding in the area.

Hope Sullivan, planning manager, said as part of the conditions of approval, the developer will have to build half street improvements, including sidewalks, and cannot begin construction until he enters into an agreement to pay his share of storm drainage upgrades on the street.

Another residential project was approved on Emerson Street, between I-580 and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on College Parkway.

Emerson Townhomes plans 37 single-family detached houses on lots ranging from 2,933 to 6,189 square feet.

The project required two SUPs, one to locate in a neighborhood business zone and another to use tandem parking garages, both approved by a vote of 6-0. It also needed a variance to reduce the yard setbacks from 30 feet to 20 feet next door to the Jehovah’s Witnesses hall, which the commission approved 4-2 with Paul Esswein and Tingle voting no. And the commission voted 5-1 to recommend the tentative map to the Board of Supervisors with Tingle casting the no vote.

The developer requested the single street inside the development be handed over to the city to maintain after it was built, but staff recommended keeping the street private and maintained by the homeowners association.

Stephen Pottéy, senior project manager, said the city does not want to take responsibility for streets that serve only a neighborhood and are not otherwise used by the public.

The commission also recommended the supervisors approve a code change request to allow marijuana dispensaries and retailers to open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Their store hours are now 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. but the city’s two stores, which both also operate outlets in Washoe County, wanted to sync their hours with what is allowed in the adjacent county.

The marijuana sellers also requested a change to their sign ordinance to allow for larger signs, but staff recommended against it and a motion to recommend it to the supervisors failed.


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