FERNLEY - A petition drive to incorporate Fernley has nearly enough signatures even before the door-to-door campaign begins.
The Fernley Incorporation Committee has until Dec. 21 to turn in 1,255 signatures but chairman Debra Brazell reported Thursday she had petitions with 1,106 signatures in hand.
"We're aware of another 150 signatures out there that haven't been brought in yet," Brazell said. "It's going very well."
Committee members have continuously reinforced the message that signing the petition would not lead directly to incorporation. A successful petition drive would only launch a formal state and county feasibility study on municipal incorporation.
If incorporation is found to be feasible, the question would be brought to Fernley voters, possibly in November 2000, with creation of a city government not following until 2001 at the earliest.
"This is not a final decision," Brazell said. "We've worked very had to stay focused on that."
The committee wants city incorporation to be community drive since it started Sept. 22. As such, incorporation proponents encouraged people to seek out petitions at a handful of local businesses.
"We didn't start knocking on doors until last weekend," Brazell said.
A team of about 25 signature gatherers is working the Fernley neighborhoods to boost the signature total to 1,500 before the deadline in 39 days. The petition drive must be completed within a 90-day timeframe.
"We were able to pick up a lot of people (who hadn't gotten to the businesses with petitions)," said Brazell, president of HydroTech in Fernley. "The reception has been very good. People are saying 'I've been meaning to get to that.'"
The petition drive wasn't slowed at all by the apparent theft of two pages of signatures from the Wigwam and the Jackpot in the campaign's first week. Those petitions have not surfaced.
Other businesses collecting signatures on petitions are the Pizza Factory, the Pizza Shack, Tucker's Pharmacy and Main Street Pawn.
Fernley is trying to become Nevada's 19th incorporated city and the first new city in the state since 1991. With a population of around 10,000 people, Fernley would take on cityhood as the ninth or 10th largest city.
Fernley is an unincorporated town with a town manager and town board that makes advisory recommendations to the Lyon County Commission.
Fernley's town board may establish laws not otherwise covered by county ordinances and the town owns and operates the sewer and water systems. Fernley also has full control over the four county-owned parks and the programs they offer.
Twice previously residents have tried to incorporate but those efforts failed. Since then, however, the idea of cityhood has gained momentum with the creation of 3 million square feet of industry at Nevada Pacific Industrial Park, including an Amazon.com distribution center and UPS Worldwide Services.
Many locals believe decisions about Fernley need to be made in Fernley, not 48 miles to the south at the county seat in Yerington.
"The county is set up to take care of a county, not a city," Brazell said. "Fernley is just lacking the paperwork (to be a city). We have to start taking care of Fernley and Fernley only."