Floodplain concerns didn’t stop Carson City planning commissioners from approving a permit for a 306-unit apartment complex in the Lompa Ranch North Specific Plan Area.
On Tuesday, planning commissioners voted unanimously to approve a special use permit for Tanamera Construction to allow multifamily housing on a roughly 24-acre site, which lies west of Airport Road, east of Intestate 580 and south of Menlo Drive. The parcel has two zoning categories within the specific plan area: multifamily apartment and single family 6,000 (minimum parcel size in square feet). The permit extends the multifamily use to the whole site.
Commissioners Nathaniel Killgore, Sena Loyd and Jay Wiggins were absent.
Referred to as Lompa Ranch East, the project will entail 14 apartment buildings, more than eight acres of open space, a clubhouse, pool facility and fitness room, among other amenities.
Concerned about developing floodplain, planning commissioner Paul Esswein said he would approve the special use permit but with reservations.
“This is one of the parcels I felt strongly at the time shouldn’t be developed with this intensity,” he said.
According to a staff report, the property lies in the AE flood zone, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency lists as having a 1 percent chance of inundation on any given year. Developers have an approved Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) for the project and would need to complete a LOMR in conjunction with construction.
A rendering of Lompa Ranch East apartments. (Courtesy Manhard Consulting)
Furthermore, a condition of approval requires developers submit proof of an active 404 permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a permit regulating discharge of fill material in waterways.
Engineers for the project said Tuesday fill will be used to raise buildings two feet above base flood elevation. According to project documents developed by Manhard Consulting, the site gently slopes “in the north to south direction toward Kings Canyon Creek.”
“Floodplain impacts associated with the project can be mitigated based on the hydraulically equivalent excavation within the floodplain,” say documents developed by Manhard. “Various sites are being considered for floodplain volume mitigation, which include localized onsite depressions, the onsite park area, adjacent park sites, and city-owned properties. This will be determined with final design, and mitigation will ensure no floodplain modifications.”
According to city staff, “any fill in the flood zone will need to be offset by an equal amount of cut and the requirements of CCMC (Carson City Municipal Code) 12.09 Flood Damage Prevention must be met.”
“There are floodplain areas that are on city land, which directly affect this area hydrologically,” says the staff report. “Excavating in these areas may benefit the city’s critical infrastructure and improve the function of the floodplain. The applicant may elect to utilize, to the extent practicable, floodplain volume on city land to mitigate FEMA flood impacts.”
The staff report also states that any measure using city land would have to be approved by the city engineer.
During public comment, resident Deni French said the subject property is delicate.
“Unless we’re careful how we mitigate floodplain issues, the city is going to hurt for it,” he said.
Community Development Director Hope Sullivan said before construction at Lompa Ranch, the area “looked like a lake.”
“There were ducks,” she said.
However, Sullivan said the specific plan area was crafted to allow “diversity of housing.” She said the plan calls for land development, not land preservation.
Kreg Rowe of Tanamera Construction said the company built the apartments behind Casino Fandango and had a large waiting list because of the need in the Carson City community. He said Tanamera is following development standards and estimated the project would take three years to complete.
“I just want to say we’re trying everything we can to do the right thing here,” he said.
According to planning staff, the Lompa Ranch North Specific Plan Area Handbook was approved in 2016 and guides development of the area.
“Lompa Ranch is one of four Specific Plan Areas identified in the Master Plan,” says the staff report. “The Lompa Ranch North Specific Plan Area is (approximately) 251.33 acres in size located on the east and west side of Interstate 580, generally south of East William Street and north of East 5th Street.”
Other conditions of approval for the apartments include dedication of right of way, connectivity with the city’s multiuse pathways, and city review of all landscaping plans in public areas.