A. Have absolutely no concept of land use planning law, or any comprehension of what they did in regards to what their vote now allows; or
B. Simply chose to utter their pathetically supportive rationale in an attempt to rationalize to themselves (and naïve members of the audience) their pre-determined actions.
However, neither scenario will make a whit of difference in regards to this decision – unless, they are called to task through legal action.
Those who do not learn from past mistakes tend to repeat them. Remember ASG and what it cost Lyon County when the board was taken to task for their illegal actions – motivated by special interest pressure? Simply put, in the ASG debacle the BOC attempted to curtail a use allowed by special use permit – because a land developer wanted ASG and its zoning gone.
Elected officials do interesting things when faced with their prospects of re-election – and Comstock Mining has now created an atmosphere in Lyon County where it is obvious they can spend the money to determine who will win! If you want to stay in that lofty seat of power, do not alienate someone who has already demonstrated this financial ability!
Commissioner Hastings’ comments indicate he had no idea of what he was doing in regards to what will now be allowed. He simply asserted master plans are not etched in stone and people should expect changes – and this approval simply opened up the opportunity for CMI to explore their possibilities. (See full comments in previous article)
Commissioner Mortensen was only concerned with the portion that was zoned NR-2, potentially allowing for high density housing in that area. Period. No mention of creating the potential for an open pit mine.
Commissioner Keller was only concerned that she be noted as the “great negotiator” – all on behalf of the residents of Silver City (without consulting them, of course), and promoted her motion in that vein. She showed no comprehension of what can now be done in regards to the zoning….because, in her opinion, if it is an open pit mine it will need a SUP, it is not a permitted use in itself.
Commissioner Ray Fierro’s comments were the most disappointing of all, because he actually served on the Planning Commission prior to becoming a commissioner and should know better. Aside from his support of the ‘compromise’, because the portion of the property being removed from the application via the ‘compromise’ saved one of his favorite mill sites from demolition, he showed a complete lack of knowledge as to what can, and will occur, in regards to any of those presumed uses allowed within this zoning “with a special use permit.”
Fierro argued there is a difference between permitted uses and special uses, stating, “What I’m looking at today is permitted uses because those are in actuality, if a change happens, those actually can be done. SUP’s are actually what could be done.”
First, as John Marshal, legal consultant for those opposed to the CMI proposal, noted at the beginning of his summation, the ‘compromise’ exclusion of the mill site from the proposal, “Did nothing to protect these buildings. It’s a wholly separate issue. It doesn’t guarantee anything regarding these sites.”
Secondly, as Mr. Marshall tried to explain to Commissioner Fierro, approval of the proposed Master Plan amendments and subsequent zone changes simply added to both the allowable permitted uses and special uses, noting “the impact is not the increase in density. The impact is in increasing the number of uses.”
“We think that that policy should be implemented via the community planning process that allows the party’s to come together and to try and find out if there’s a way that all of this area’s interests can be compromised into an actual solution. The proposal before you now is not a compromise….It’s not a give & take….” Marshall explained. “The proposal before you is the issue – that the proposal can lead to substantial adverse acts to the residents of Silver City. If this is something you want to go forward with, you’ve got a record problem…and as a litigator I would love to take it right now. You’d have a hard time supporting, on the existing record, what you have in front of you if you are going to amend the master plan…..”
Marshall added, “If you move forward, someone is going to be really pissed off. When you get to the SUP and if it’s something that is going to be proposed, then there is already general agreement. Right now what’s going to happen is you are going to have a lawsuit, perhaps no matter which way you go, on the SUP – and that is not a productive use of anyone’s time. “
Marshall also highlighted one of the policy statements within the 2010 Master Plan:
“New industry should only be located in areas that do not adversely impact existing residential settlements.”
For those of you who don’t quite get the picture (Commissioner Fierro, pay heed):
With the approval of the CMI proposal, the owner of that property may now apply for any use allowed within that land use designation – whether it needs a special use permit or not – and the BOC may not deny that use, unless they want to cause the County to face legal challenges. By approving the CMI application they said it is OK to place any of the allowed uses there. The only control over that application is, if it needs a SUP, will be to put conditions on that application.
Some of those testifying argued they supported the CMI application, but would not support an open pit mining operation. Well, guess what – if CMI comes in with an application for an open pit mine, all the protest in the world will not stop them. You cannot refuse to allow open pit mining when you have just said open pit mining is OK within that land use designation….PERIOD! I guess the SUP conditions could be made so harsh the applicants would hesitate to try and meet them; however, I believe SUP conditions that go beyond what is reasonable would be challengeable in court, too.
Marshall stated, “With you’re doing the master planning and zoning you are incorporating new uses that are allowed uses or special uses and I believe you are obligated to look at whether or not that range of uses…is appropriate given this particular area. That’s good planning. That’s what good planners do.”
The issue of getting both sides together to discuss a possible compromise prior to approval of the CMI requests was pushed by Marshall and Commissioner Virgil Arellano.
“Mr. Marshall hit the nail on the head. If we are going to change county policy, than we better have, at the very minimum here, community support on this, with some kind of compromise,” Arellano argued.
Marshall added, “We should say to ourselves ‘we need a solution that is good for everybody. We are going to deny this for now and try to work it out in the community planning process. We think it is premature right now two go ahead and take action.’”
However, Commissioner Keller, prior to her motion based on the ‘compromise’, declared, “From what I have seen, nobody’s made that effort to ask for a compromise. I made an effort on behalf of Silver City to try to get a compromise.”
Definition of ‘compromise’: An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions….An ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both.
Definition of a ‘compromise bill’: A compromise bill is a bill, which is drafted after two sides reach an agreement over a dispute by each side making concessions. These bills will usually include a little of what each party wanted at the beginning. Many parliaments usually settle on a compromise bill.
Think about it.
Nancy Dallas, Editor/Publisher
NewsDesk (Est. January 2003)