There is wisdom and power in planning rather than reacting to events as they happen. That logic is the rationale behind a proposed amendment to the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan, known as the Annexation Settlement Agreement. The proposed amendment will allow our region to better plan, shape and guide our community over the next 100 years. The Agreement is the result of a court ordered settlement between the cities of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.
If you read the agreement, you will see it is not an “annexation plan” or a “development plan.” Simply put, the agreement settles the dispute over jurisdictional boundaries for the areas that could potentially accommodate future growth for the Cities of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. In addition to setting jurisdictional boundaries, it would also require public services and facilities to be concurrent with development.
Current projections show Reno’s population will increase from our present 206,000 residents to a community with 323,000 people by the year 2030, that’s an additional 117,000 new neighbors. Reno will obviously need more land to accommodate our new neighbors in order to maintain our quality of life. The southern part of town does not provide the acreage needed for Reno’s future needs. Most of the available land is in the north.
The acreage needed is based on a formula calculating our projected population growth with an agreed upon number of people per acre. All three jurisdictions have agreed to give Reno 12,000 acres, if Reno “rollbacks” to the county, 2,100 acres located south of town. In order for Reno to reach its 12,000 acres, the Winnemucca Ranch, north of town, was added to Reno’s potential boundary.
The benefits of this type of planning go beyond establishing jurisdictional boundaries. Among other things, with public support and input, the plan would also allow us to deem areas as unsuitable for development before they become privately owned. This would allow us the potential to set aside land for rights-of-way, school sites, flood plains, wildlife corridors, etc. This type of planning would also allow us to better preserve, protect and identify natural resources, such as water.
One aspect of the plan calls for all three entities to draft a public lands bill which would require significant public input and broad-based community support. It would be modeled after the public lands bill in Southern Nevada.
The public process of implementing this plan is still underway. The City of Reno recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Back then, we did not have this opportunity. Today we have choice. We can react to individual development proposals as they come forward or we can plan and guide our future. As our community continues to grow, this agreement will allow us to plan instead of react, which seems to be a wise choice.