SPARKS – Alfa Aesar, a Johnson Matthey Company international company that produces hazardous, toxic compounds for use in research laboratories, universities and pharmaceutical companies, was given the go-ahead by Sparks City Council Monday to locate a 9.5-acre facility in Sparks.
The complex will be located at 2070 Brierley Way, just off Vista Avenue.
John Krmpotic, a planner with KLS Planning & Design in Reno, the company that Alfa Aesar hired to assist the company’s plan to locate a facility in Sparks. KLS handles land-use planning, community design, land-use policy and entitlement and public approval processing.
Krmpotic said prior to the meeting that Alfa Aesar will use the Sparks facility to store small vials of each chemical as a storeroom for its customers in the western U.S – mostly California.
Once the chemical company is up and running, customers from research laboratories, universities and pharmaceutical companies will be able to pick and choose which chemicals they need for different projects. Alfa Aesar will then be able to quickly box up the small vials – the size of a mini-soda can – into boxes and ship them to their clients.
Jim Rundle, planner with Sparks Planning and Community Services Department explained how the system would work to City Council Members Monday.
“The East Coast will send vials to the Sparks site and companies, etc. will pick what they need and have the orders shipped to sites over California,” Rundle said.
Fire officials explained that the application was forwarded to many residents and the State Fire Marshall’s office.
All details were coordinated with the owner and everything worked out, according to fire officials. Numerous meetings were held with fire departments and the applicant has worked out all concerns.
“But there is always the unfortunate accident” said City Manager Shaun Carey.
A list of the quantity of each chemical the company will have in storage compared to the NRS threshold was listed “to qualify it as a highly hazardous amount,” Krmpotic wrote the City Council. The Sparks location will have 20 percent of the amount it houses at its main location in Massachusetts for the first five years of operation, he said.
Krmpotic said once finished, the company may employ up to 15 people at first.
The Sparks Planning Commission, at its July 19 meeting, also recommended the approval to allow for the storage and distribution of the hazardous chemicals on the site. The site is located in a district zoned as a Transit Oriented Development Employment zone.
The entitlement, according to the planning commission, falls under Nevada Revised Statutes, and not the Sparks Municipal Code. Unlike most Special Use Permits, in this case, the planning commission served as a recommending body to the City Council.
NRS states, “The planning commission shall, within a reasonable time after the public hearing, submit to the governing body its recommendations for any actions to be taken on the application.”
Construction of the present building at the site took place in the early 1990s. The buildings have been used for industrial land-related uses. Caterpillar occupied the site recently.
Last spring, Alfa Aesar contacted the City of Sparks and a pre-application meeting was scheduled. Staff recognized that the application fell under the NRS requirements for a special use permit.
According to the staff report, operations of Alfa Aesar’s Sparks site would take place entirely within the building. The Administrator of the Division of Environmental Protection of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the State Fire Marshal and the Administrator of the Division of Industrial Relations of the Department of Business and Industry were contacted.
As part of the special use permit, the type of and amount of chemical being shipped into Sparks will be made clear once the applicant renews its business license each year.
The City Council approved the application unanimously.