City of Reno

Staff Report - Planning Commission

Staff Report (For Possible Action): Case No. LDC18-00028 (525 Roberts Street) - A request has been made for a special use permit to convert an existing office building to mixed used (residential/restaurant) adjacent to residentially zoned property. The ±0.16 acres site is located on the north side of Roberts Street, ±170 feet east of Wells Avenue in the Community Commercial/Wells Avenue Mixed Use (CC/WAMU) overlay zoning district. The site has a Master Plan land use designation of Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan. bjo


Department:Community Development - Planning & EngineeringSponsors:
Category:SUP (Special Use Permit)Wards:Ward 3

Staff Report Formal Body

Ward #:


Case No.:

LDC18-00028 (525 Roberts Street)


Stephen Glen

APN Number:



A request has been made for a special use permit to convert an existing office building to mixed used (residential/restaurant) adjacent to residentially zoned property.


The ±0.16 acres site is located on the north side of Roberts Street, ±170 feet east of Wells Avenue in the Community Commercial/Wells Avenue Mixed Use (CC/WAMU) overlay zoning district.  The site has a Master Plan land use designation of Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan.

Proposed Motion:

Based upon compliance with the applicable findings, I move to approve the special use permit, subject to conditions.


Recommended Conditions of Approval:


All conditions shall be met to the satisfaction of Community Development Department staff, unless otherwise noted.


  1. The project shall comply with all applicable City codes, plans, reports, materials, etc., as submitted.  In the event of a conflict between said plans, reports, materials and City codes, City codes in effect at the time the application is submitted, shall prevail.
  2. The applicant shall apply for all building permits for the project within 18 months from the date of final approval, and continuously maintain the validity of those permits, or this approval shall be null and void.
  3. The applicant, developer, builder, property or business owner, as applicable, shall continuously maintain a copy of this approval letter on the project site during the construction and operation of the project/business.  The project approval letter shall be posted or readily available upon demand by City staff.
  4. Prior to an issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the applicant shall provide legal documentation of an easement for the trash receptacle on APN 013-095-18. A signed/notarized dumpster agreement from said owner must also be provided. The applicant is to provide appropriate screening for the trash receptacle in the easement.
  5. Prior to the issuance of any permit, plans shall be submitted demonstrating:

(a)                The parkway strip located on the southern portion of the site is improved with public amenities and landscape buffing.  All landscaped areas shall be irrigated with low water irrigation heads.

(b)               The lighting has been updated and adequately lights walkways and the  parking area. The plans shall provide a photometric and verification that lighting does not impact surrounding properties.

(c)                The details of the opaque glazing required to be installed on the east and north side of the building on the ground floor/commercial level.

(d)               The bike parking location, access and capacity. Plans must verify that parked bicycles do not impede or restrict pedestrian walkways.

(e)                The on-site ADA parking design compliance including slopes and striping. Plans should also demonstrate slopes and cross slopes on walkways from said parking to the public sidewalk on Roberts Street and all building entrances.

Background: The ±0.16 acre site is located mid-block with alley access and frontage on Roberts Street.  The site contains an existing, two story, flat roof, brick building. The façade is a combination of light brown brick and dark wood siding. The ±6,000 square foot building is setback approximately 20 feet from the front and rear property lines and approximately five feet from the side property lines.  The owner has documented that the current uses of the building are an outpatient counseling center and a sales office (Exhibit A).




Key IssuesA special use permit (SUP) is required due to a nonresidential development being adjacent to residentially zoned property. Potential impacts include: traffic and parking, hours of operation/patio dining, lighting, circulation, and privacy.


Land Use CompatibilityThe applicant has proposed to convert the existing building into a mixed use development with the top floor being converted into two, one bedroom residential units and the ground floor to be converted into a commercial kitchen/restaurant.  The owner stated that there is not a current tenant for the space but that the restaurant use will be limited to a coffee shop, deli or other lower impact use that is compatible and supportive of the upstairs residential units and the surrounding residential usesOperating hours for any use between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m would require the approval of a SUP.


The site is zoned Community Commercial (CC) with an overlay zoning of Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan (WANP). The Sub-Land Use is Wells Avenue Mixed Use (WAMU) (Exhibit E). The ±0.16 acre parcel located to the west is under common ownership and is asphalted for parking.  Adjacent to the west of the parking parcel is a multifamily unit that is zoned CC and fronts on Wells Avenue.  The three other boundaries of the site are adjacent to the Multifamily-14 units per acre (MF14) zoneThe adjacent parcel located to the south, across Roberts Street, contains a two story single family residence. Located to the north, across the alley, and directly adjacent to the east are parcels that contain both a multifamily unit and single family residences. The two story multifamily buildings located on both of these parcels are located along the alley and have uncovered alley accessed parking in the front of the units.  Along Wells Avenue and in the general area several other multifamily units and small businesses exist.  The neighborhood transitions to single family residences to the east of the site (Exhibits A, B, C and D).


The reuse and conversion to a mixed use for the subject building is compatible with the zoning and surrounding uses in the area (SUP Findings (a) and (e)).


Urban/Environmental Design (this includes LID and LEED/Green Design): The reuse of an existing building, provision of infill development, redeveloping in close proximity to transit, reduced parking, and creation of a walk-able neighborhood amenity are supportive of Green Design and LEED concepts. The use of an existing building and redevelopment of an infill site creates a situation where services and infrastructure are in place and adequate (SUP Finding (c)).


The exterior façade will change little from the original building.  A neutral color palette and painted cedar wood siding are proposed.  A patio and seating area will be added to the front of the property along Roberts Street (Exhibit F and G). The patio will have a trellised covering and additional landscape to buffer the patio from the sidewalk. The signage and bicycle rack will be incorporated into this area.  The applicant is proposing a modest and low profile freestanding sign at the front of the property.  There is no additional notable signage on the site or building. The sign, patio, trellis and bike parking area should all be designed to complement each other in architecture and materials (SUP Finding (g)). The plan does propose the loss of mature existing trees and the loss shall be mitigated per Reno Municipal Code (RMC) 18.12.504 (Replacement of Trees/Penalty of Removal).


Glazing and exterior doorways will be updated to meet energy efficiency standards and ADA guidelines.  The commercial portion of the east and north façade will have opaque windows to ensure the privacy of the adjacent residential property and prevent glare from the parking area into the commercial area. The residential units on the second floor will have standard glazing.  This material choice and placement is consistent with the surrounding residential uses.


The current landscape includes multiple large evergreen trees and shrubs.  The front setback and parkway strip are mulched with white rock.  The general appearance of the landscape is overgrown and unkempt (Exhibit A).  Additional landscape buffering will be required between the parking area and the north side commercial windows (SUP Findings f and h).


The exterior lighting on the site is minimal and limited to two lights mounted at the top of the second level on the west side of the building.  LID concepts are proposed with the use of modern LED lighting, water wise irrigation and permeable pavers in the patio area.  The new LED lighting will have cut off fixtures to limit glare and light overspill onto neighboring parcels (Condition 5b). Landscaping is minimal on the site and required to use low water irrigation heads (Condition 5a).


The applicant proposes normal hours of operation and to close the patio prior to dusk. The dumpster will be located on the adjacent parcel currently held in common ownership with an easement and use agreement. There is currently a dumpster for the properties located off of the alley on the northwest corner of the adjacent parking parcel (Exhibit D). The dumpster area shall be screened per RMC Figure 18.12-31 (Condition 4). The grease interceptor is located to the rear/alley of the property and placed under the parking for the site (Exhibit G).  The grease interceptor installation and maintenance will be regulated per Washoe County Health. The hours of operation, design considerations of cut off lighting fixtures, the screened dumpster, location of the grease interceptor and their sighting towards the alley limit the environmental impacts associated with residential uses support SUP Finding (f).


Public SafetyReno City Police had concerns about inadequate lighting on the site and in the parking area.  The plans indicate the site has been updated with LED lighting that creates a safer and more easily patrolled site [SUP Finding (d)].


All construction must meet current Fire code per the request of Reno City Fire Department.


Public ImprovementsThe infill and building reuse of this property creates a situation where few public improvements will be required.  The applicant will be required to improve and provide a landscape buffer and public amenities in the parkway strip along Roberts Street (Condition 5a).


CirculationParking for the current uses is provided on an adjacent lot located to the west (APN 013-095-18) and currently under common ownership with the subject site (Exhibit B).  This lot is entirely paved minus a ±100 square foot section located on the southeast corner that is minimally landscaped.  The ADA compliant parking for the building is provided on the adjacent parcel.  This parcel is not included in the current application.  The subject site has four parking stalls located off the alley on the north end of the parcel.  ADA accessibility is not provided from these stalls to the building entrances.  There is significant grade change from the parking stalls to the entry walkway which has resulted in a set of stairs being installed (Exhibit C).  The adjacent property contains the trash receptacle for both of the parcels (Exhibit D). Four parking spaces including one ADA stall and associated striping shall be provided from the alleyway.  There is no parking requirement for commercial uses and one space per residential unit is required in the WAMU zoning.


Public sidewalk exists along the frontage of Roberts Street and is in good condition.  There is an existing walk from the public sidewalk to all entrances of the building and the parking located to the rear of the site.  The access to and from the parking area does not currently meet ADA standards and shall be updated to be compliant. Onsite bicycle parking should be provided at the front building area and should be easily accessible from the roadway and public sidewalk.  Pedestrian and bicycle access shall not be impeded or conflict with the bicycle parking area (Condition 5d).


Master Plan:  As proposed and with recommended conditions, the project appears to be consistent with the following applicable Master Plan policies and objectives:  Neighborhood Conservation, Housing, Public Services-Facilities and Infrastructure, Transportation, Streets-Parking-Access and Community Design.  The project touches a broad range of policies and is in substantial conformance of the Master Plan [SUP Findings (b)].


Land Use DesignationThe proposed mixed use development is supportive of the goals of the sub land use designation WAMU. The use of an existing building and traditional neighborhood corridor site creates a situation where services and infrastructure are existing and adequate (SUP Finding (c)). While the project alone is highly desirable in this zoning, it also provides the opportunity for the adjacent parcel, currently the associated surface parking lot, to be used for a higher and greater use. This further supports the goals of higher densities, walk ability and new infill development in the Wells Avenue neighborhood.


PoliciesThe proposed development addresses several Master Plan specific policies including:


·               Encouraging neighborhood revitalization through housing rehabilitation and infill reuse/conversion

·               Supporting housing development that provides pedestrian, bicycle and transit access to facilitate the reduction of automobile use

·               Providing development incentives that encourage new development projects in areas with existing streets, sewer lines and fire station. (i.e. not requiring parking for the commercial use)

·               Encouraging pedestrian and bicycle access and parking in commercial developments, residential areas and the corridors between these uses

·               Supporting efforts to reduce air pollution from vehicle emissions and street sanding.

·               Preserving and encouraging alleys in the city center or traditional neighborhoods

·               Encouraging the clustering of services in locations convenient to neighboring residential areas in order to promote fewer vehicle trips

·               Promoting incentives for adaptive reuse properties creating a vital center and protecting neighborhood character.

·               Striving to offer an indoor outdoor environment which is accessible and meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

·               Encouraging mixed and multiple uses to encourage and promote walkable neighborhoods.

·               Providing signage that is an element of the building and appropriate in scale to the use and surrounding neighborhood.


Neighborhood PlanThe project is subject to the Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan (WANP)The project is supportive of the Mixed Use Corridor policies in WANP. These include: maintaining a broad mix of neighborhood supportive uses along the corridor including residential, façade improvements and fostering a pedestrian oriented commercial corridor.


General Code ComplianceThe plans shall meet all building and fire code and be compliant with Reno Municipal Code.


Other Reviewing BodiesThe Plans were reviewed by Washoe County Health that commented on the grease interceptor and the proper installation, procedures and upkeep. The plans were found to conform to their standards.


Neighborhood Advisory Board:  This project was reviewed by the Ward 3 Neighborhood Advisory Board on November 7, 2017.  No comments were received.




Land Use

Master Plan Designation



Multifamily residential

Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan/Wells Avenue Mixed Residential-14



Single family residential

Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan/Wells Avenue Mixed Residential-14



Single/multifamily residential

Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan/Mixed Residential-14



Parking lot

Special Planning Area/Wells Avenue Neighborhood Plan/Wells Avenue Mixed Use



Legal Requirements:


RMC 18.06.405(e)(1)               Special Use Permit




Special Use PermitGeneral special use permit findings.  Except where specifically noted, all special use permit applications shall require that all of the following general findings be met, as applicable.


a.              The proposed use is compatible with existing surrounding land uses and development.


b.              The project is in substantial conformance with the master plan.


c.              There are or will be adequate services and infrastructure to support the proposed development.


d.              The proposal adequately mitigates traffic impacts of the project and provides a safe pedestrian environment.


e.              The proposed site location and scale, intensity, density, height, layout, setbacks, and architectural and overall design of the development and the uses proposed, is appropriate to the area in which it is located.


f.              The project does not create adverse environmental impacts such as smoke, noise, glare, dust, vibrations, fumes, pollution or odor which would be detrimental to, or constitute a nuisance to area properties.


g.              Project signage is in character with project architecture and is compatible with or complementary to surrounding uses.


h.              The structure has been designed such that the window placement and height do not adversely affect the privacy of existing residential uses.

Meeting History

Dec 7, 2017 6:00 PM Video Reno City Planning Commission Regular


(Commissioner Johnson present at 9:08 p.m.)

David Madsen, representing the applicant, gave an overview of the project.

Brook Oswald, Associate Planner, gave an overview of the staff report.

Commissioners Weiske, Johnson, Hawkins, and Olivas disclosed that they visited and/or are familiar with the site.

At this time Chair Gower opened public comment for this item.

Earnest Plante discussed concerns regarding more re-zoning requests and parking issues.

Russell Persson discussed concerns regarding parking, noise and disturbances at night.

Hearing and seeing no further public comment requests, Chair Gower closed public comment.

Mr. Oswald explained for Commissioner Weiske how the proposed parking will meet the Mixed Use requirements.

Mr. Oswald confirmed for Commissioner Weiske that the operating hours of 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. are allowed with residential adjacency. He also stated that the applicant has made no disclosures regarding the intent to sell alcohol.

Mr. Oswald explained for Commissioner Weiske there is existing lighting on the building and the applicant is proposing to update that to LED lighting, the front of the site will be lit, back into the parking area will be lit with down lighting off the building. The Reno Police Department (RPD) have made comments that they like that style of lighting and it will improve the safety of the area. There is no proposed lighting on the east side of the building. He also explained that a condition was not included for dark skies because the LED lighting and down lighting would meet code requirements. Conditions can be included if needed.

Mr. Oswald confirmed for Commissioner Hawkins that there were no comments provided at the NAB meeting. A report with comments from RPD was provided and their main concern was lighting in the area.

Claudia Hanson, Planning Manager, confirmed for Commissioner Johnson that the Planning Commission does have the ability to limit the hours of operation.

Mr. Oswald stated for Commissioner Marshall that the applicant is proposing a lower profile sign appropriate to the area. Information on the signage was provided within the revision drawings but was not provided in the packet.

Mr. Madsen explained for Commissioner Johnson their plans for the building windows.

Mr. Madsen demonstrated for Commissioner Marshall where the signage would be located. He also confirmed that it would not be larger than the existing sign.

Mr. Oswald answered questions for Commissioner Hawkins regarding the ADA parking that will be provided.

Chair Gower identified ADA parking, lighting, signage, NAB comments, and police information as outstanding items in the staff report that would help the Planning Commission to make findings.

Commissioner Weiske stated that he did not receive a copy of the application.

Commissioner Johnson noted that the staff report does say that there were no comments received from the NAB.

Ms. Hanson explained that a waiver is needed from the applicant in order to continue this item.

Mr. Oswald stated that the applicant said he would provide a waiver of time.

It was moved by Commissioner Weiske, seconded by Commissioner Hawkins, in the case of LDC18-00028 (525 Roberts Street), to continue to January 3, 2018. The motion carried unanimously with seven (7) commissioners present.

MOVER:Kevin Weiske, Commissioner
SECONDER:Ed Hawkins, Commissioner
AYES:Kevin Weiske, Mark Johnson, Ed Hawkins, Paul Olivas, Britton Griffith-Douglass, Peter Gower, John Marshall