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Planning Commission returns to chambers
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 16, 2014 | 884 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sparks Planning Commission Chairman Art Sperber, right, led the committee's first meeting of 2014 Thursday evening. The commission was set to elect its new Chair and Vice Chair during the meeting, but chose to push the decision until its next meeting allowing time for the Sparks City Council to re-elect current members or elect new ones.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sparks Planning Commission Chairman Art Sperber, right, led the committee's first meeting of 2014 Thursday evening. The commission was set to elect its new Chair and Vice Chair during the meeting, but chose to push the decision until its next meeting allowing time for the Sparks City Council to re-elect current members or elect new ones.
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The Sparks Planning Commission held its first meeting of the year Thursday evening and went right to work by approving a special-use permit for Itsy Bitsy Learning Center, which will move to about a half-acre property on Prater Way near 19th Street.

The child care facility is moving into a site previously occupied by a similar establishment that held tenure from the early 1980s to 2012, according to City of Sparks documents and Washoe County Assessor data. Tim Thompson, senior planner for the City of Sparks, said a special-use permit would have been required under previous zoning code provisions and the permit approved Thursday allows for a child care facility in the Transit Oriented Development/Mixed Residential zone.

The building is about 4,700 square feet and a portion of the "play area" of the facility is located in the city's right-of-way property, which Thompson said needed to be addressed.

"This potentially poses significant liability concerns for the city," Thompson said in his staff report. "As a result, the city will not allow this area to be utilized unless the right-of-way is abandoned."

Thompson said Itsy Bitsy Learning Center must submit an abandonment request to the Sparks City Council or the play area and surrounding fence will be removed from the city's right-of-way.

The Itsy Bitsy Learning Center will have classrooms for pre-school children as well as individual classrooms for 2- and 3-year-olds. Toddlers will have a separate classroom on the east side of the lobby and infants will have ample room for play on the opposite side. Staff and child recreation rooms, administration offices and a kitchen round out the new child care facility.

Brenda Martinez, applicant for the learning center, told the planning commission Thursday evening she has been working with children in a similar capacity for 20 years and found the new facility "perfect" for her needs.

In a separate agenda item, the Sparks Planning Commission also approved a special-use permit in the same zoning district for a Kwik Serve automotive service station on a quarter-acre property on Prater Way.

The currently vacant property at 2169 Prater Way was formerly a gas station and property owner 1111Connecticut Street Partners, based in San Francisco, Calif., will bring a multi-use facility to the land. The facility is 1,500 square feet and exterior improvements are being determined in order to meet architectural requirements.

Thompson said the property owner will be adding several landscape planters, about 1,350 square feet, to meet the minimum requirement of 15 percent landscaping on the site. Total landscaping will cover 12 percent of the property, but because the facility is located in Redevelopment Area 1 the owner must make "every effort to comply with all requirements," according to city staff.

A clause in Chapter 20.32 of the Sparks Municipal Code reads, "special landscaping requirements, which may be greater or lesser than those required in this chapter, may be imposed by the administrator on projects which are proposed for areas of specific city interest, such as, but not limited to, redevelopment districts."
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