Minutes of the Nevada Senate Committee on Government Affairs, Seventy-Seventh Session


April 3, 2013  


The agenda of the meeting was to discuss five bills. One of them was Senate Bill 272 (SB272): Provides for the revision of the boundary line between Storey County and Washoe County. (BDR 20-840)


This is an html version of the discussion of SB272 only. For the minutes for all of the bills discussed click here.


Jed Margolin

Virginia City Highlands, NV





Senator David R. Parks, Chair

Senator Pat Spearman, Vice Chair

Senator Mark A. Manendo

Senator Pete Goicoechea

Senator Scott Hammond



Senator Joseph P. Hardy, Senatorial District No. 12

Senator Justin C. Jones, Senatorial District No. 9

Senator Ben Kieckhefer, Senatorial District No. 16

Senator Michael Roberson, Senatorial District No. 20

Senator James A. Settelmeyer, Senatorial District No. 17

Senator Debbie Smith, Senatorial District No. 13

Assemblyman John C. Ellison, Assembly District No. 33



Patrick Guinan, Policy Analyst

Heidi Chlarson, Counsel

Martha Barnes, Committee Secretary



Garrett Gordon, Sunny Hills Ranchos

Vincent Griffith, P.E., President, Reno Engineering Corporation

Senate Committee on Government Affairs

Greg Hess, Storey County

Bill Sjovangen, Chair, Board of County Commissioners, Storey County

John J. Slaughter, Washoe County Commission

Juanita Cox, Citizens in Action

Jessica Satre, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce

Tray Abney, The Chamber, Reno, Sparks, Northern Nevada

Lindsay D. Knox

Geoffrey Lawrence, Deputy Policy Director, Nevada Policy Research Institute

Anthony Fiannaca, Sparks Florist, Inc.

Jack Mallory, Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council

Alan H. Glover, Clerk/Recorder, Carson City

Larry Burtness, Recorder, Washoe County

Debbie Conway, Recorder, Clark County

Diana Alba, Clerk, Clark County

Margaret Flint, Chapel of the Bells; Arch of Reno Chapel; Silver Bells Wedding Chapel

Karen Ellison, Recorder, Douglas County; President, Recorder’s Association of Nevada

Jennifer Chapman, Recorder, Storey County

Mary Milligan, Recorder, Lyon County

Ron Dreher, Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada; Washoe County Public Attorney’s Association; Washoe School Principals’ Association

Rusty McAllister, Professional Firefighters of Nevada

Priscilla Maloney, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Brian O’Callaghan, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department



Chair Parks:


There are five bills on the agenda today plus a work session. I will open the hearing on Senate Bill (S.B.) 272.


SENATE BILL 272: Provides for the revision of the boundary line between Storey County and Washoe County. (BDR 20-840)



Senator Ben Kieckhefer (Senatorial District No. 16):


I am proposing an amendment (Exhibit C) to S.B. 272 prepared by the Legal Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau. I will refer to proposed Amendment 7897 while testifying on the bill. This piece of legislation was brought to me by a constituent who owns property straddling the Washoe and Storey County boundary line in southeast Washoe County. The owner would like to develop the property in a mixed-use fashion that includes both residential and commercial uses. From a services prospective, it ties into the South Truckee Meadows area in the terms of municipal services. Washoe County would be the appropriate jurisdiction if commercial and residential developments occur on the property.


Following a discussion with representatives from Storey and Washoe Counties, there is some interest in seeing another piece of property move between the two counties that is also reflected in this bill. Senate Bill 272 allows the Board of Commissioners of Storey and Washoe Counties to make the decision regarding a change to their boundary lines. The counties need to reach an agreement and must do so within a couple of years. If the decision is not reached, the change cannot happen. The bill is enveloped in a cloud of neutrality so you should not hear a lot of opposition.



Garrett Gordon (Sunny Hills Ranchos):


Sunny Hills Ranchos, as owner of the piece of property located in Storey County, is requesting the property be moved into Washoe County. I have provided a map (Exhibit D) called the SB 272 color map. My client owns the property in the bottom left-hand corner of approximately 1,100 acres that we would like to see move into Washoe County. I have provided a second map (Exhibit E), an existing services map, and you can see the proximity of water infrastructure and sewer within a mile or 2 miles on the Washoe County side of the property; thus it would be more economically feasible to bring this property into Washoe County.


The intent of the bill is to give enabling authority to the counties to make this decision. Currently, Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 243 identifies all county boundaries. The Legislature only has a right to amend those boundaries. The bill gives enabling authority to both pieces of property. They do not come in together; it can be one or the other. If S.B. 272 passes and one of the properties goes before the Washoe County Board of Commissioners and the other property goes before the Storey County Board of Commissioners and this is approved, then the boundary line adjustments become effective. The properties may come as a package or they may come separately, but it was important to both the Washoe County and Storey County Board of Commissioners that it be an either-or approval and not both.


Referencing the proposed amendment, Exhibit C, section 1 amends the legal description of the Washoe County boundary to add the Sunny Hills property. Section 1.5 amends the legal description of Storey County to include the property in the upper left-hand corner of Exhibit D, which is currently owned by the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, LLC. Section 2 confirms that the boundary change will not impact the outstanding obligations of either county unless specifically discharged by that county. Section 3 states the bill is effective upon passage. It was important to both counties that this issue did not continue for years, so a deadline date was set to get this exchange accomplished.


The deadline is June 30, 2015. We have approximately 2 years to obtain approvals from both Washoe and Storey Counties to move the boundary line. Section 3 also includes language that says when section 1 becomes effective, the Washoe County piece would legally be moved upon approval by Storey County and Washoe County. It also says that section 2 would be effective upon approval by Washoe County and Storey County. It was very important to both county boards that the properties be considered separately, voted upon independently and not have to do one without the other.



Chair Parks:


It probably seems strange to change county boundaries, but it is has been done in the past when the Clark County and Nye County border was moved for the purposes of a development. The concept is not entirely foreign. There was also a portion of Washoe County moved into Lyon County during a previous Legislative Session. This is a fairly common occurrence given development. Does Washoe County have a condition that it will not provide municipal services beyond its county borders?



Mr. Gordon:


Since that arose as one of the many questions on land use issues, such as water, transportation and access, we thought it was a good idea to move the local government discussion from the Legislature to the county level in order to negotiate those issues.



Vincent Griffith, P.E. (President, Reno Engineering Corporation):


For the past 13 years, we have been the project engineers and project managers for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. I am also the president of the water and sewer company serving the industrial park. The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center is roughly a 167-square-mile project highlighted in the bottom left-hand corner of Exhibit D. For reference, the City of Reno city limits are roughly 106 square miles and the City of Las Vegas is 136 square miles.


The project has been underway for 13 years. Companies such as Toys “R” Us, PetSmart, Alcoa, James Hardie and others have located in the Park. We have constructed numerous and expensive state-of-the-art utility infrastructure to serve these Park customers that we have brought from outside the State. Over $50 million has been invested in the project. The sewer plant cleans 1.2 million gallons per day, and we have four water tanks with storage for over 5 million gallons of water. A tremendous amount of work has been done adjacent to and abutting the property in Washoe County.


We constructed a county complex for police and fire personnel on a portion of the project, so we have police and fire personnel on-site. We have been working with Washoe County staff over the last decade to anticipate the hurdles in bringing this parcel into the development. We found that we are unable to share utilities over county lines, so it makes more sense to adjust the county line.


We have a $4 million sewer plant that does not distribute water or effluent back to the Truckee River. If we were to stay in Washoe County, we would not be allowed to use the existing sewer plant and would be required to utilize a septic system and a leach field. To put it into perspective, a standard warehouse with 300 employees would be almost 13,000 gallons a day of effluent leaching into the groundwater. For expense and for efficiencies, the proposal of S.B. 272 just makes sense. It is very difficult to provide police and fire services from Washoe County at this location. From an efficiency standpoint, it makes sense to include this property in the adjacent county in order to take advantage of the utilities and infrastructure.



Greg Hess (Storey County):


The Storey County Board of County Commissioners had a meeting yesterday, and the vote was to remain neutral on this proposal. The Commissioners like the idea of being able to transfer one or the other properties in or out of Storey County and/or Washoe County. As long as that language remains in the bill, we are looking forward to moving along with this to allow the counties to make the decisions regarding these two properties.



Bill Sjovangen (Chair, Board of County Commissioners, Storey County):


We did have a unanimous vote yesterday by the Board of County Commissioners to be neutral on this bill, so we can continue the dialogue with Washoe County and the developers. Mr. Griffith has indicated the difficulty of utilities crossing county lines, and in the case of the property that would be given up by Storey County, we could never provide utilities to that section. The only feasible way to provide services would be to transfer the property to Washoe County. On the Washoe County side, Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park would like to develop the property and, services are an issue.



John J. Slaughter (Washoe County Commission):


The Washoe County Commissioners reviewed this issue at their meeting last week, and they took no position. There was a great deal of discussion, and they are happy to see the local review and approval by both Storey County and Washoe County Commissions; the amendment allowing one, both or neither of the properties be transferred; and finally, a deadline for action. A number of regulators related to sewers make it difficult to provide services across county boundaries. Discussion of moving either or both properties and bringing the decision to the local Commissions is something the Board of Commissioners was happy to see in the bill.



Senator Goicoechea:


I commend the counties for working on this bill together because it is clearly at the level of local government where it needs to be.



Juanita Cox (Citizens in Action):


My concerns have been somewhat appeased, but I was concerned that the citizens of both Washoe County and Storey County were unaware of this issue and certain people were not represented. I saw proposed Amendment 7897, Exhibit C, to this bill, and my concerns have not been discussed. The taxes in existence to that amendment are July 1 this year, as well as all taxes pledged and revenue in existence prior to that date. If this amendment is not passed or being considered, then I have no comment.



Chair Parks:


Because both Washoe County and Storey County had the issue as an agenda item for discussion at their meetings would satisfy the requirement of providing public notice. As long as the property is in private hands, there are obviously property taxes and because of the possible property exchange, they might cancel each other out. The issue on property taxes seems to be fairly minimal. Was there any discussion at either board meeting regarding property taxes?



Mr. Gordon:


During the Washoe County Commission hearing, there was a discussion, and preliminary calculations showed the assessed value on the Sunny Hills property is around $600,000; the property that could potentially be included in Storey County has an assessed value of $2 million. There were concerns expressed that it may not be an even swap; however, you would be giving enabling authority to the counties, and they could work it out. Both properties are vacant now. With the development, there is potential for it to be a wash. That conversation will continue at the local level.



Senator Goicoechea:


Regarding this issue being on the agenda of the Boards of Commissioners, there will need to be additional discussions and future meetings where the issue will be posted on the agenda prior to any transfer.



Mr. Gordon:





Chair Parks:


I will close the hearing on S.B. 272 and open the hearing on S.B. 370.