MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
April 25, 2013
This is an html version of the discussion of SB272 only. For the minutes for all of the bills discussed click here.
Note that Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler was not there. Assemblyman Wheeler represents Assembly District 39, which includes Storey County. For Assembly District 39 map click here.
Virginia City Highlands, NV
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Assemblywoman Dina Neal, Vice Chairwoman
Assemblyman Elliot T. Anderson
Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams
Assemblyman Skip Daly
Assemblyman John Ellison
Assemblyman James W. Healey
Assemblyman Pete Livermore
Assemblyman Harvey J. Munford
Assemblyman James Oscarson
Assemblyman Lynn D. Stewart
Assemblywoman Heidi Swank
Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT:
Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Chairwoman (excused)
Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce (excused)
Assembly Committee on Government Affairs
GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:
Senator Pete Goicoechea, Senatorial District No. 19
Senator Ben Kieckhefer, Senatorial District No. 16
STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Jennifer Ruedy, Committee Policy Analyst
Jim Penrose, Committee Counsel
Bonnie Hoffecker, Committee Manager
Maysha Watson, Committee Secretary
Jennifer Dalton, Committee Secretary
Cheryl Williams, Committee Assistant
Jeffrey Fontaine, representing Nevada Association of Counties
Nancy J. Boland, President, Nevada Association of Counties; Commissioner, Esmeralda County
Dan Musgrove, representing City of North Las Vegas
Geno Martini, Mayor, City of Sparks
Wes Henderson, representing Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities
Warren B. Hardy II, representing City of Mesquite
Mendy Elliott, representing City of Fernley
Cadence Matijevich, representing City of Reno
Thomas Perrigo, representing City of Las Vegas
Nechole Garcia, representing City of Henderson
John Slaughter, representing Washoe County
P. Michael Murphy, representing Clark County
Lisa Foster, representing City of Boulder City
Rebecca Gasca, representing City of Fallon
Doug N. Johnson, Vice Chairman, Board of County Commissioners, Douglas County
James Kimsey, Private Citizen, Las Vegas, Nevada
Danny Thompson, representing Nevada State AFL-CIO
Juanita Cox, representing Citizens in Action
Jack Mallory, representing Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council
Priscilla Maloney, representing American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041
John Madole, representing Associated General Contractors, Nevada Chapter
Garrett Gordon, representing Lewis & Roca LLP
Greg "Bum" Hess, representing Storey County
Bill Sjovangen, Chairman, Storey County Commission
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
We are going to close the hearing on S.B. 66 (R1) and open up for Senate Bill 272 (1st Reprint).
Senate Bill 272 (1st Reprint): Provides for the revision of the boundary line between Storey County and Washoe County. (BDR 20-840)
Senator Ben Kieckhefer, Senatorial District No. 16:
Before you today is Senate Bill 272 (1st Reprint), which is the product of a conversation I had with a landowner in Storey County who is adjacent to my district. This individual would like to bring the property that he owns into Washoe County from Storey County for the purposes of potential future development. It is property that probably more appropriately fits into the more urban and suburban land use that is afforded in Washoe County's planning right now. I told him I would bring the bill forward. It has been well negotiated to the point where the decision on this would be left to the two governing boards of Washoe County and Storey County.
The bill itself has two pieces of property involved in it. One is the piece that I just spoke about, and the other is a piece of property along the Interstate 80 (I-80) thoroughfare that is adjacent to Storey County and could be used in conjunction with the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRI).
What the bill does is leave it up to the two governing bodies to collectively decide if they would like to bring in one, both, or neither of the properties in terms of a land swap. They have two years to make this decision, and the bill would expire at the end of the next biennium, on June 30, 2015. Section 2 of the bill provides protection for each individual county's tax rolls, unless there is an agreed-upon change to that. It is really leaving it up to the two governing bodies as to whether or not they would like to make this trade of property.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
Before you go forward, could you repeat the statement on the tax roll?
Yes. Section 2 is designed to protect each individual county's taxes and tax base so that there is no adverse economic effect on the counties unless there is an agreement between those counties to make some change in that way. It would have to be mutually agreed upon by both entities.
Garrett Gordon, representing Lewis & Roca LLP:
On the Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS) you should have two maps. One is on the easel to my left, showing the proposed Storey County land acquisition (Exhibit I). The second is a map showing the proximity of major services to the Sunny Hills property (Exhibit J). Referring to the first map, I represent the property owner of the rectangular parcel in the lower left. We would like those series of parcels to be brought from Storey County into Washoe County for three reasons. The first is proximity to services. If you look at the major facilities map, you can see that a water structure and roadway and sewer facilities are probably within a mile and a half of the development. Looking on the Storey County side, it is certainly a lot farther away and probably less cost-effective and less time-effective.
Also, geographically, if you look at the major facilities map, the ridgeline runs to the east of the proposed property that would come into Washoe County. This is really the west side of that hillside. Again, as far as services for residents and businesses in the area, everyone would be using the infrastructure in the public facility and public safety components of Washoe County.
The bill, as Senator Kieckhefer mentioned, identifies this piece. I will allow Mr. Hess to discuss the Storey County piece. Again, it just provides enabling authority. The bill identifies two pieces of property and allows the counties two years to work out a deal. I will note that this includes the Virginia City Highlands folks. I think there is a resident here today who lives a few miles away from my client's property. He has some concerns about water zoning and a lot of local issues. We have committed on the record at both county commission hearings that we have neighborhood workshops up there and continue to work with them.
Greg "Bum" Hess, representing Storey County:
I am also speaking on behalf of the property owner in TRI, but as a friend, not on any other level. You have this bill in front of you. We are neutral on it from the county commission standpoint but in favor of working with Washoe County in this swap. We think it is going to be a huge economic boom one way or the other, especially with the industrial piece that we have down along the river right next to the nation's largest industrial park. We have 106,000 acres, which is roughly two-thirds of Storey County, that is owned by the TRI partners. This particular piece is in Washoe County. It is separated by a river. We have about $35 million of infrastructure sitting right at the edge of the river, which will probably not be developed as the land stands in Washoe County because of complications.
We look forward to working with Washoe County and trying to get this into Storey County to create a lot of jobs.
I looked at the map, and if you are going to do this, now is the time to do it. If you get population in there, then you start looking at letterheads, zip codes, and things that could interfere. I think cleaning up some of those areas that are along the highway is a good start for future commercial development.
Is that residential at the bottom of the map? Is that a subdivision?
Yes. This is basically Hidden Valley here, and this is the Damonte Ranch area and the Double Diamond Ranch area. Yes, this is very much residential, commercial, and industrial all through here, which is Washoe County. This here is the borderline of Storey County.
That is what I am trying to say. If they develop that under the other county and then decide to do this later on, you are back trying to get people to change their addresses and their county. If you are going to do this, now is the time to do it.
I was looking at the original bill, which did not include any type of swap. Who brought the amendment?
The effort was to try to ensure there was a negotiation that took place. I would not want to propose a bill that takes property out of a county that the county had not agreed to give up. I brought the original bill to address the property in question adjacent to my district but with the understanding that it was going to be amended as a part of this process.
Who brought the amendment?
I may have brought the amendment. I do not remember. It must have been the first reprint after we got it drafted. It may have been my name on it. I have to go back and look. It was agreed upon.
Obviously, a legislator has to do it. The appraised value of the two different pieces of property I understand are substantially different, and I hear the gentleman at the end of the table saying we want to create these jobs. I do not know why Washoe County would not want those jobs. I am just not seeing it as a fair swap. If a landowner owns land privately held in another county and wants to have it brought into Washoe County, I understand the legislator saying he will bring the bill for him. However, where is that landowner trying to defend his need, and how did the other citizens of Washoe County get into this swap? We have more valuable land in Washoe County along the river and along the I-80 corridor that we want to swap for the benefit of some other developer, and the developer is not even here. I see Mr. Garrett here but not the landowner. I was just curious who brought the amendment and why the rest of Washoe County is being brought into some developer's problem.
As those pieces of property currently sit, the assessed value may be very different, but upon development, that is going to change. I think the idea of bringing in mixed-use development, residential, and commercial areas into
Washoe County is going to adjust that assessed value significantly and could be a benefit to Washoe County in the long term.
Also, it was important to both commissions that it did not necessarily have to be a land swap. It could be either/or. Maybe Washoe County would never give up their piece, or maybe Storey County would never give up their piece. We are just asking for the ability to have those dialogues and negotiations within the next two years.
I could see why this makes good sense. What we are putting in place is an opportunity for two county commissions to negotiate the development within their proposed adjustments of their county lines, and it gives a two-year time limit to accomplish that. There is a commissioner here from Storey County today who would not be representing this if he felt it was not the appropriate thing to do. I am in support of this, and I look forward to its adoption and moving forward.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
For the vacant parcel that is now in Storey County, what is the development that is planned? What is the projected assessed value that is going to be associated with that development?
Under section 2 of the bill, have there been any discussions on the taxes or revenue that someone could prospectively pledge if you agree to do the swap before July 1, 2013?
I think the value of the property that is currently in Storey County is really dependent on how it is planned and how it is utilized. If something gets brought into Washoe County, there would have to be a discussion over the appropriate land use for it. They would have to get a map. That has to go through the entire local government development process and land use process before you could do a real assessment of what the potential value is going to be. I cannot speak to whether or not there is a master plan already developed for the community. A lot of that will depend on the zoning and land use that is given.
I cannot speak to the issue over a prospective use of potential taxable or assessed value for pledging obligations of the county. I do not know exactly how to answer that question, if I understood it correctly.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
Here is what I find interesting. They want to come over into Washoe County because the services are in Washoe County. There is an expense for them to do development on the Storey County side where there are no services that reach that parcel. Is that correct?
Which parcel are you talking about?
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
I am talking about the rectangle (Exhibit I). Do you have services that currently go to that vacant land?
No, we do not.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
That is right. Basically, the client wants to swap or come into Washoe County so he will not have to take on that burden of those services. It will then already be included under Washoe County. My thought is that no one goes through the process of legislation without knowing what the benefit or the potential profit is. Why would you do that? It does not make any sense. What do they want, and what is the potential profit benefit that is going to be derived? That is what I want to know.
I cannot adequately speak to that. I do not represent the developer. Maybe Mr. Gordon can address that question, but I think the issue is over what type of project this person wants to develop on their land. Where it is currently placed within Storey County, it does not have connectivity for any type of municipal service. With the desire, from my understanding, to build some sort of mixed-use suburban style development, you are going to need the services that go along with it. The cost of extending those services out onto this parcel from Washoe County, where they currently stub out, will be a burden that is laid upon the developer of that property. However, the concept of trying to go through the land use process within Storey County, build them all, and then connect those utilities between counties has been explained to me as incredibly difficult. Those are not things that usually go multicounty.
Having uniformity within the governmental jurisdiction for those types of services, whether it is water, sewer, or whatever it may be, makes sense from a development perspective. I am sure that the developer would not be proposing it if it was not going to be profitable for him. Frankly, from my perspective as a policymaker, I do not care if he is going to make money. I like when people make money. If, in the end, Storey County and Washoe County agree that they want to make this land swap, who am I to say that someone should or should not be profitable and to what degree?
I will refer again to the Sunny Hills major facilities map (Exhibit J). My client owns the property in the green, which is currently in Washoe County, and also the property with diagonal white lines, which we would like to come into Washoe County.
You asked why, and there are three reasons. One, you hit the nail on the head with the services, but we have to pay to get services from our property to the existing stub. Developers have paid, as they should, for their impacts for the facilities to where they are currently located. My client would pay to connect those services to the existing stubs. Two, it is a very unique and beautiful piece of property up on the hillside. There are four or five unique plateaus where residential or a commercial node would occur. With the property line running right through the middle of the development, it really would cut neighborhoods in half. As the property sits today, you could have your property being in Storey County while you are in Washoe County. It is the continuity of development of how the property sits that is the reason we would like to bring this piece into Washoe County. Lastly, geographically, there is a ridgeline that runs along the east boundary of this property. To us, it makes some sense. Everything on the west side would be in Washoe County and the east side would be in Storey County.
I would also note that the Regional Transportation Commission's (RTC) plan shows South Meadows Parkway, which is in Reno off of I-80. It is the major access point to this property. The secondary access point is another route through Reno. Not only are there no services, but there is no infrastructure on the Storey County side to get up to the property. Anyone living up there or doing business up there would access that property through Reno and Washoe County.
Finally, I will answer the question you asked me yesterday about what could be the potential value at the end of the day. I talked to the client. It is way too speculative at this point. Right now, it is zoned. There is a very large residential lot. We have plans for hopefully higher density and some commercial uses, but like I said, Storey County made it very clear on the record when I went through their county commission that we need to work with the Virginia Highlands folks. We may have to give up some additional open space. We may have to limit the zoning. We may have to do some height restrictions.
We may have to do a number of things to mitigate their concerns and be able to get a development.
I wish I could give you a number, Madam Vice Chairwoman, but I think it is just too speculative at this point until we have all of the local land use issues resolved.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
I appreciate that. How long has he owned this already existing developed property? Did he not know that one part of it was in Storey County when he was thinking about the continuity of the development?
This property has been owned for 30 years. It was purchased 30 years ago, waiting for Reno and Reno sprawl, if you will, to eventually make it out to the property. It has the Damonte Ranch subdivision and development. It is beautiful and has won awards in northern Nevada. This would be, I believe, a nice accent to that area.
Yes, he knew that a portion of the property was in Washoe County and a portion was in Storey County. I have only been involved for the last couple of years, but my understanding is, for a length of time, there have been discussions with Storey County about doing interlocal agreements and boundary line adjustments. All that discussion has led up to where we are today. We would like to see this property come into Washoe County knowing that there is remaining property on the backside that would stay in Storey County, and we would work on what that development would look like, as well.
The way I look at it, this is a fair trade. The portion of the residential is the larger lots. You have an infrastructure there. You will also have parks and recreation, just like you said, but the big thing is the smaller portion that goes down along the highway. It is not the same in landmass, but you are talking apples and oranges. That is a commercial development. That could be the future of what that county could do as far as truck stops. To me, it is a fair trade because they are going to have housing developments. It already has infrastructure, and the other trade would be for future commercial development.
I just want to make it very clear that neither commission intended this to be a land swap. It very well could be, at the end of the day, but both commissions have to decide that. It could very well be that the bigger parcel gets brought into Washoe County. Storey County may say no, and that parcel may stay in Storey County. To the other piece along the river, Washoe County may say they want to hop in but are going to do a revenue sharing. There is a lot of infrastructure down there. Storey County and Washoe County will probably be talking about not just giving this land to Storey County for the industrial park but doing some type of tax sharing along that.
We are very well prepared. We know exactly what this land could be worth. It is not worth much right now in Washoe County because of our infrastructure. The developer who did all of Double Diamond Ranch will not work in Washoe County so much anymore. He is getting a little bit up there. He has 106,000 acres in Storey County. With this Washoe County piece right now, which is in his hands, he does not plan on bringing any infrastructure over there unless it is into a Storey County play. He has a huge master and service plan already enacted in Storey County, and, as I said, has over $30 million sitting in Storey County to develop this industrial park.
This is just a little part of it, but it is a very intriguing part because it is right off of I-80. That is something that we are very interested in, and Washoe County, talking to some of those folks down there on the commission, know that this will not be developed in their lifetime unless it does get switched over into Storey County. However, both counties have to come together on this and decide if it is best for both counties. If it is not, at the end of the day, we are back here in two years and no property lines are adjusted. It is up to the two counties to decide that.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
We will go ahead and shift into support.
Bill Sjovangen, Chairman, Storey County Commission:
To make a long story short, basically what we are asking for here is your permission for the two counties to talk back and forth with each other. This is the first step of a very long trip. We are going to have to have a lot of public meetings. At least on the Storey County side, we will put this up in front of our planning commission. We want to get feedback from the population, particularly those who are most closely impacted by the residential development that Mr. Gordon wants to do.
It is going to be a long process. As you have seen, there is a sunset clause some two years in the future. This could result in both a residential and a commercial development on the one side. On the other side, this thing could simply sunset in two years, and nothing would ever be done. Basically, there is a lot of work to be done. There is no way we could get it done during the 120-day session. What we are asking you to do is let this drop down to the county level so that the two counties can work with each other and go through this process.
Assemblywoman Bustamante Adams:
Can this not already be done through an interlocal agreement instead of having to put it into legislation?
We cannot move the county lines ourselves. The problem we get into is cross-county utilities and things like that, which I do not totally understand. Mr. Gordon probably can explain that, but there are some things that we just cannot do at the county level through interlocal agreements.
Assemblywoman Bustamante Adams:
You probably need to check that because, from my understanding, you can. If there is an agreement between the counties to be able to share services and taxes, it is already possible.
I would have to refer to legal counsel on that. I do not have counsel here with me today, but this is my understanding.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
Are there any additional questions? Seeing none, we will shift into neutral. Are you neutral?
Storey County is going to remain neutral on this, but we would like to get it through this building and get it down to the county level. That is all we are asking you to do.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
Priscilla Maloney, representing American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041:
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 4041 represents a bargaining unit in Virginia City and Storey County. I asked the county employees their input on this bill and what their concerns were, if any. They are definitely neutral. However, they wanted it brought to the Legislature's attention that they are very concerned about the impact on water up there. We do not represent police or fire up there, but we do represent the folks who do the 9-1-1 calling. Fire is a huge issue up in that area, and it always has been. The only concern they wanted me to bring to the attention of the Committee was about how this would impact their water reserves.
John Slaughter, representing Washoe County:
Washoe County Commission has reviewed the issue, and Mr. Gordon did come to the commission and discuss the issue. The board took no position. They are, however, very happy with the components of the bill, particularly that it comes to the Storey County Commission and the Washoe County Commission through resolution if this is to move forward. There is a deadline. Within the next two years, this has to be either completed or not, and then the fact that it is either both, one, or neither of these properties that would be swapped. The boundary line adjustments would be made.
With those provisions in the bill, they did not take a position, but if it does move forward with the amendment that was brought on the Senate side, they would be very happy. If it does move forward, they wanted to make sure that those provisions were in the bill.
Juanita Cox, representing Citizens in Action:
I originally opposed this bill on the Senate side. I was concerned with the amendment, but it was not brought out at that time. All of a sudden, it was in the bill. In the past many years, Washoe County residents had fought a highway or road, and this might be some kind of a reason for this exchange. I have informed those people and also Storey County. Now I feel that at least somebody is representing the citizens or is aware of this bill.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
We will shift into opposition on S.B. 272 (R1). [There was none.] We will call the bill sponsors back to the table for any final comments.
Ultimately, what we are trying to do is let the county commissions make a decision as to whether or not this makes sense for their counties and their residents and give them a deadline. If they can work out a deal within the next two years, then go for it. If not, they are out of luck. I think that makes sense.
Vice Chairwoman Neal:
We will close the hearing on S.B. 272 (R1), and we will open up for public comment. I see none.
Meeting adjourned [at 10:52 a.m.].