To the editor:
I’m writing to urge readers to ask your representatives in the State Senate and Assembly to reject Nevada Assembly Bill 427. This bill essentially takes away local government’s power to regulate use or work on patented mining claims through land use planning, zoning, or special use permits. It would prohibit local government from taking any action that “prohibits or unreasonably restricts” the owner of a patented mining claim from “using or performing work” on any property included in that claim, even if the patented land is in a location entirely unsuited for mining. In Silver City, where I live, a number of properties in town were originally patented as mining claims, and I’m sure there are similar examples in Gold Hill, Virginia City, and other towns and cities throughout the state. These properties have long since been zoned for residential use, and in fact many—in keeping with the surrounding neighborhoods—have themselves been developed as residential property. This law would reopen any of these properties to mining by nullifying existing zoning and permitting requirements or prohibitions, even though they reflect decades of community planning and development. Also, there is an interesting hitch to AB427. A county could, if it wants to, enforce their existing zoning or other requirements—but only if they compensate the owner for the value of any real or imagined development of the patented land. Someone like myself, who happens to own a lot that was originally a patented mining claim, can dream up a mining project and then demand compensation from the county because their zoning won’t let me dig up my bonanza. Makes me wonder if AB427 isn’t such a bad idea after all, but if it’s your neighbor—and not you—who owns the patented claim, you’re probably better off opposing the law.