Master Plan integrity loses to money & power

Mining Open PitAmidst the widespread emotion and disgust, there are so many ethical issues and questions of propriety in regards to the Lyon County Commission vote of 4-1 in support of the Comstock Mining application; but, unless the inevitable legal challenges hold true, the deed is now done.  Money and political power won over logic and conscience.

So, what else is new in Lyon County?

For those still unaware, Commissioners Bob Hastings, Vida Keller, Ray Fierro and Joe Mortensen voted in support of granting CMI Master Plan amendments (Commissioner Virgil Arellano was the lone dissenter) that will now allow CMI, or whoever owns the property in the future, the ability to pursue their desire to open pit mine the canyon between Routes 341 and 342.  The subsequent zone change requests were then granted – a non-issue at that point.

I did not count, but approximately 60-70 individuals were allowed to give their three minute opinions on the issue.  I compliment them for participating in the process, particularly those who lost a day of work and a tank of gas to do so.  That does not include the two busloads of CMI supporters who did not lose a dime in regards to gas and work – and enjoyed a hearty breakfast (perhaps more), compliments of CMI.

In retrospect, however, I do not believe for one second that any of this testimony had one iota of influence on the outcome of this issue.  If it had, logic would have prevailed – not out and out insultingly arrogant comments/rationale by the four supportive commissioners in their attempt to verify their vote – overturning the Planning Commission 5-1 vote and Planning Department recommendation for denial.

Here are some random thoughts on this embarrassing day for ethics in Lyon County government:

·         Top of the list – Commissioner Keller’s behind the scene meeting with CMI on January 1, 2014.  No other commissioners or any Silver City representatives were present, asked to be present or were even aware of the meeting. (Well, I imagine a few other commissioners were well aware…)  This meeting resulted in a ‘compromise map’ being submitted the day of the hearing and approved by the commission.

o    “From what I have seen no one has made that effort to ask for a compromise.  I made that effort on behalf of Silver City to try and get a compromise.” (Vida Keller, January 2, 2014 Commission meeting

o   For anyone with any sense of ethics and transparency in government, this statement is the epitome of hypocrisy.  Sadly, however, this is also the norm for the Lyon County Commission.

·         Top of the list #2 – This is not the first time a Lyon County County Commission has done so, but the absolute disregard of this commission for the Planning Commission and Planning Staff is disgusting.  This commission (and others before it) simply rendered the Master Plan meaningless, the Planning Commission irrelevant and the Planning Staff irrelevant.  It’s as if there are no brains or logic below those who have been elected to this lofty office.

o   After more than four years of staff and community effort, the current Master Plan was approved just three years ago – December 2010.  $200,000 was spent on a profession consultant and countless hours of staff time was spent to create this plan.  It was approved at the community level prior to being approved by this board (which Mr. Mortensen and Mr. Fierro were members of at that time)

o   I am sure Ms. Keller, being as caring as she is for the residents of Silver Springs, was a part of her community’s effort in creating this plan.  Of course, I don’t believe she was quite as concerned with Silver City’s community plan as she apparently is now!

o   I don’t think Mr.Hastings has any idea of or any respect for the planning process, period!

o   Taxpayers of Lyon County (and the Dallas family is one of them) should demand the abolition of expending any funds on any future plans to update the Master Plan – and demand the abolishment of the Planning Commission.  I have full respect for both the Master Plan (when upheld) and the Planning Commission – but both are meaningless in the political world of Lyon County when money and power from special interests come into play.

·         Commissioner rationaleIndividual commissioner rationale for voting in support of the Master Plan change was pathetic and one would think, if any of them had a conscience, they would be totally embarrassed; however, from past experience with such ludicrousness in similar situations, that will not happen.  They won!!  They will have full support of CMI in all future election endeavors!!  Money will buy them future re-election success!!  The general public pays no attention to such idiocy!!  They are now important (in their own eyes) in the realm of ‘big time’ politics.

o   Commissioner Bob Hastings

§  “Several people have spoken to the master plan process, how we got to 2010, how well it was done, what a great job they did….but for us to sit here and think we created the perfect document forever is a bit naïve.  Master plans are meant to be 20-year documents, but there are also going to be times when we find they need to be changed….When we look at changes, look at what Fernley was 25 years ago…same thing with Dayton, its grown a little.  We have to have the ability to look at what our situation is now and make changes….we have to adapt or die.  For the last five, six or seven years Lyon County has been looking at how we have slowly been dying.  Now we have some opportunities.  This doesn’t open up anything other than their ability to go ahead, move forward, invest money in their research to determine if this is where they want to go.  They have to come back in front us before they make any decisions on what they’re going to mine or how they are going to mine it on their property.  

o   Commission Chair Joe Mortensen

§  “My main focus on this issue is density.  We have water and sewer issues around the county.  Any opportunity we get that an applicant is willing to reduce the density, I think we need to take advantage of that situation.  If we can reduce the density that is a plus. At the SUP time, at that time we will make the necessary requirements and restrictions on where and what can happen as far as their impact on the community up there.”

o   Commissioner Ray Fierro

§  This issue is difficult for me.  I am pro-mining, but I am also pro-historic preservation….both of those apply here.  (Stated passion for preservation of Consolidated mine and the ‘compromise the eliminated it from the proposal.)  Yes (the RR-5) does open the door for whoever asks for a special use permit, but it does not guarantee a special use permit…..I do not know whether the mining company is going to want to do open pit mining or underground….that right now is not on the table.  Whichever way this goes, they are not mining today.  They are not mining tomorrow….they will have to ask for a special use permit. 

§  We cannot condition a Master Plan amendment.  We cannot condition a zone change……..I am trying to look at this wholly from a land use and what the adjacent master planning and zoning is surrounding it.  There is already industrial zoned property in Silver City……I don’t know how it got there but it’s still there.  From my viewpoint that is more concerning to me than what we have today…..Today we have a master plan amendment.  We have to look at what uses are allowed now, what uses will be allowed if passed.  Is it a good thing or not for Lyon County.”

o   Commissioner Vida Keller

§   I am hearing from even Commissioner Arellano that as far as a master plan, people expect is going to be protected forever.  Well, history tells us zoning doesn’t protect you forever.    We go out and do a new master plan every 10 or 20 years – when they get around to it.  Nothing’s a guarantee.  You take our old master plans and you take the one that was just adopted.  There are some major differences between the two. …….Nothing is a guarantee in government.  We do our best to protect our citizens, protect the property rights for everybody on both sides.  That’s why I reached out at the last minute, the 11th hour, trying to figure out a compromise and that was the motion I put out today…..We have a company before us that I feel is trying to get to a point that they can let us know what they want to do in the future.  No decision today is going to guarantee they are mining, they are not mining or they are going to walk away…….the price of gold could drop out tomorrow and they might say ‘you know it was really nice to fight, but we can’t afford to do it anymore.  Nothing is a guarantee in life, but what we are trying to do  is come to a compromise here…..they are even willing to compromise, even on a portion of one of their patented mining claims to protect a view shed….I think the company is doing their best to work with both sides…”

There is a lot to think about (and comment on) in what each of these individuals said.  There is a lot to think about and write about in regards to other discussions, particularly the ‘debate’ between Commissioner Fierro and Silver City legal representative John Marshall; the ethics declarations and the law; CMI’s presentation; and more, however, this article is already too long. 

I will continue with my commentary in coming days, but it is all being written in frustration, once again, with the polluted political process – and in sympathy with and for a small community that is being sold down the political sewer – as so much of the Comstock/west-central corner of Lyon County already has been.

Think about it.

Nancy Dallas, Publisher/Editor

NewsDesk (Established January 2003)

10 years of caring!


Posted in Editorials
22 comments on “Master Plan integrity loses to money & power
  1. Kim says:

    I am so happy CMI got the 4 to 1 vote. It’s unfortunate for you that you choose to live in a “Mining Town”. There wouldn’t be any “little towns” in this area if it wasn’t for mining so deal with it or move. CMI is moving forward in a big way so deal with it. GO COMSTOCK!!!!!!!

    • Quest Lakes says:

      One of my favorite lines in the classic film “Cool Hand Luke” is “Yeah, them poor old bosses need all the help they can get.” It’s a fitting response to your cheers for this corporate/ government team “victory” over your own team (everyday people of Lyon County vs.undue political influence of millionaires and billionaires of other states, counties and nations). As Dragline might say in the present situation, “Go,bosses! Another big win for them bosses!”

    • Lisa Manning says:

      Wrong John. Lyon County Commission itself declared this a “residential” town and have happily collected property taxes from “residents” for 40+ years.. They have reinforced this multiple times, and specifically in 1986, and most recently in 2010. These are not citizens that moved in last week. So now what does Lyon County Commission do? Lift their skirts for miner with a piece of gold, and pretend they never had any responsibility to the citizens that have been living there for decades? Appalling.

  2. Wayne Bachand says:

    We are not moving, this is our home and we will stay and fight while you cowards afraid to include your last names shoot off you big mouths we are working together.

  3. Janet Rise says:

    Great article!
    When I first moved to Nevada a fourth generation Nevadian and neighbor said to me,” welcome to the ol’ boy state.”

    Joe Conforty, a pimp and a brothel owner,was surprised at how cheaply he could buy power in Storey County. As Lilly Tomlin said, “no matter how cynical you are, it’s just not enough.” Who would have guest that a souls went for only 17,000 dollars our county? Maybe the they will be each be gold bearing rock in their next life.

    If two Lyon Commissioners think I will ever forget how they voted, and will vote for either of them again, they have never met someone from Kentucky, that went to two years of college in Harry Truman’s state. As one ex said about me , I don’ t have high blood pressure, I give it.

  4. politicalphd says:

    It is very true, some few “movers and shakers” in Lyon County are a giant part of the “Good ‘Ol Boy’s” network that run this county, and, they ARE the main reason it is the most severely economically destitute county in our nation.

    If anyone thinks it will get any better, any time in the future, think again. If you want a taste of what it will be like IF the new development and building standards get implemented, part of the new LC Master Plan, then, the draft copy of the development codes is on the LC web site for all to read, and get fully disgusted, and, nauseated over. It is GIANT GOVERNMENT running every facet of county development, and, government induced/fully managed ‘growth’, at its very best.

    Most Lyon County residents haven’t got a clue as to what is in store to be forced upon them, by the government fully managing their private properties, but, it ain’t gonna be good. As I said previously, it IS the nuisance ordinance, on extreme steroids, and needs to be amended, modified, stopped.

    The LC Planning Commission is now sitting through 5 to 6 hour sessions reviewing the new development codes, and, they are as confusing as can be, which IS the way government rams through stuff that isn’t in the public’s best interests. Most government officials, such as those on the Planning Commission, are good, honest, unbiased people, but, they have absolutely NO idea that some of the measures they adopt, and approve, are literally the worst thing they could do, not being aware they are based on complete government take over efforts.

    The current wool pulling is to not add for consideration, a full attempt to radically change things, but, to bring abut very subtle, small changes, so the people that adopt those efforts aren’t really aware of the bad intent of them. When enough of the little efforts are innocently enacted, they merge, to form one very malicious law. This is the way Harry Reid and other socialists are quietly doing their very best to force this country into full on communism today. If they can’t force their plan into law by a full frontal attack, they quietly go to the side, or, rear, and attack, getting what they want, before anyone realizes it has been done.

    This is what we MUST become ever vigilant in making the public see, good people in our local governments innocently misled into assisting in our very destruction, before it is realized the force is occurring.

    Educating the public on these efforts to end our freedoms, with measures like most provisions of the new development codes, is what the population needs to be made aware of, before those codes alter everyone’s lives, for the worse, only to appease a small few of Good ‘Ol Boys, and ultra leftist persons adversely altering OUR governments, bent on a power takeover of every thing, and person.

  5. Quest Lakes says:

    Seems like a good time to re-read Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, “One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these
    two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women;behind, the children listening with their souls to words their
    minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning–from “I” to “we.” If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx,Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.”

  6. Me says:

    OK, John, so lets turn your comment around. Dayton Valley was historically a farming community. So if some rich agricultural corporation, say Archer Daniels Midland, wanted to put a big old stinky hog farm adjacent to the Dayton Valley Golf Course, and gave thousands of dollars to the LCBOC to ensure their position, and hired a few relatives of the commissioners to ensure loyalty, that would not be a problem for you? How about a little empathy for people who are losing all they worked for? Are you capable of empathy?

  7. Cheri Scott says:

    Lyon County politics hasn’t changed in the last 100 years. It’s still all about what happens in back rooms and who has money in their pockets and will freely share.

  8. Theo McCormick says:

    You want to cry, to be heard, it’s so unfair. But no one cares, no one is listening. Your home, your life has been sold out for a few pieces of silver. Outside the affected area no one cares, it can’t happen to them and besides, you were stupid for buying your house there. You should have known. Its a sacrifice you should be willing to make, no amount is too much to give to us for the hope of jobs. The death of your home and your community is a worthy sacrifice to the profit we will all surely see.

  9. John says:

    Money talks…….

  10. CCNv says:

    And people wonder why there is no investmet in western Lyon County. It’s knee jerk reactions to the lure of potential easy money such as CMI’s that throws commen sense out the window. Who in their right mind would invest in real estate development for residential or retail when tomorrow our elected officials could decide to change decades of planing development and zoning to an incompatible use. Perhaps tomorrow we will have a gravel pit in Santa Maria ranch, or a feed lot behind Smiths.

    That giant sucking sound is all of the money earned by hard working county residents being spent in Carson City and Washoe County. If our elected officials had a clue they would be focused on consistency with zoning and the master plan to encourage retail development here instead to keep this money in Lyon. This problem will continue to plague the county and the decision about the land in Silver City certainly won’t help.

  11. ssnvme says:

    Great article Nancy. This just shows the ignorance of the people who continue to get elected in Lyon County. If you look at past Commissioners who cared about the people, they were elected for the short term because they cared and money has historically carried in new puppets. We loved the beauty of the area but got out to live a more peaceful, protected life where common sense prevails. Our local ‘purchased commissioner’ was defeated in a $100K vs $15K election because the people paid attention and voted smart. I hope the people of Lyon County vote smart and find some new blood without strings attached. And while you are at it, maybe it’s time to FINALLY move the county seat to where the action is, where the money is, where progress is . . . (using their words). Time they walked their own talk.

  12. politicalphd says:

    Also, if I am not mistaken, both Mortensen and Fierro also disclosed, at the meeting, that they also had direct contact, in one form, or another, with CMI.

    I’m just going to sit back and watch the two parties, the residents of Silver City, and CMI, now go directly to court actions. That IS where this whole mess is headed to.

  13. politicalphd says:

    If you think this one incident is bad, wait until you read the pages of the new Lyon County Master Plan being developed right now. It IS the nuisance ordinance, on full steroids, and, even MORE.

    Discussion and development of sections 3 and 4 of this disaster will be n the agenda for the Planning Commission’s January 14th meeting at the county commissioner’s chambers, and, it is open to the public, so…ATTEND.

  14. Thanks Nancy – you nailed it again!

  15. Malala says:

    Thank you Nancy, for the clarity you bring to this issue, and for your support of the investment in time, effort, and personal resources the people of Silver City have been making in Lyon County for the past forty years.

  16. karl says:

    in Nevada honest politician is one who STAYS bought

  17. Lisa says:

    It is a crime that CMI was able to influence and prevail. This commentary is a clear and concise summary of the discraceful practices of the Lyon County Commission. I hope that the Lyon County voters, realize this and vote to reject these Commissioners.

  18. Judy says:

    A Master Plan that’s written in pencil… This action shows complete disregard and contempt for both the people this Commission was elected to represent, and for one of the most scenically beautiful areas of Nevada. A sad day for our state, indeed.

  19. John says:

    I’m glad CMI got the 4 to 1 vote. I’m sorry you live in a mining town. That is how your town became a town. By mining. So you don’t like it. Move. You will not stop them now. I say more power to comstock.

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