Lyon rejects Dayton zoning requests

DAYTON - Lyon County commissioners have reaffirmed their opposition to two controversial zone change requests.

Hearing the application for the third time in two years, commissioners Thursday repeated their decision of February 1999 and denied requests from William Mitchell and Michael Zacharias to change the zoning from residential to commercial on their Dayton properties at 180 River Street and 155 Gates streets respectively.

Commissioner Bob Milz' motions for denial of each application were identical. The reasons cited were overwhelming public opposition to the request; the Dayton Regional Advisory Council's unanimous recommendation of denial; the parcels location within national and federal historically designated areas; lack of adequate parking for commercial enterprise and the creation of spot zoning.

Noting the county's master plan was created in 1977 and updated in 1990, Milz also said the county master plan should have reflected the Legislature's intentions in creating the Comstock Historic District in 1972.

Mitchell and Zacharias' properties are currently zoned as 6,000-square-foot, single-family residential lots; however, the master plan designates the zoning for all of this area of Dayton as commercial.

Speaking on behalf of William Mitchell, Darren Mitchell said the zone change request was to bring the property into conformance with the master plan and claimed the property was not zoned for historic preservation. Zacharias made a similar statement.

"I bought this property because the master plan said it was commercial. I just want the same consideration as the property right next door," Zacharias told the board.

According to county planning officials, the adjacent property on which the strip mall is located was zoned commercial before its purchase by current owner Ray Monia and before the building was constructed.

Speaking on behalf of the State Historic Preservation Office, Comstock Historic District Administrator Bert Bedeau said the two lots in question are located in an important historic area.

"This area does retain a high level of historic integrity for the Comstock era and the properties are included within the National Historic designation. There are less than a dozen such sites in Nevada," he said. "This is extremely important to the history of the area."

Adjacent property owner and leader of opposition to the zone change Cyndi Howard said, "A master plan is not a straitjacket," adding that approving the request would create spot zoning and destroy the historic integrity of the neighborhood.

"We have the inherent right to a quality of life, it is your job to protect it," she told the board.

Commissioners approved requests from Mitchell and Zacharias in 1998, but after neighbors protested that they had not been notified of the hearings, the commissioners voted to reconsider the applications.

In February 1999, after listening to opposition to the request, they reversed their decision and denied the applications. However, Mitchell and Zacharias appealed and the court ordered another hearing.

In overturning the board's February decision, District Court Judge David Huff agreed the Howards were improperly notified in 1998 but declared all subsequent decisions invalid because the commissioners acted outside their authority in reconsidering the original decision.

Huff's opinion also said evidence did not support the commission's primary reason for denial.

Commissioners based their February 1999 denial on the community's desire to maintain the historic character of the Dayton area.

Zacharias told the board that if his current request did not pass he "would probably be going back to court."


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