Masons' land deal under discussion

Lawmakers balked Wednesday at authorizing state lands officials to join forces with the Masons in improving and selling hundreds of acres in northwest Carson City for development.

The property includes 320 acres of brush-covered state land and 80 acres of contiguous property owned by the local Free and Accepted Masons lodge, near Western Nevada Community College.

The Legislature's Interim Finance Committee was urged to endorse the plan by Pam Wilcox, who heads the Division of State Lands, and by a Masons representative.

But Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the state shouldn't rush into the deal. When Wilcox continued to press for IFC backing, he added, ''You're trying the patience of this committee.''

Told that the Masons might decide against putting money into developing the property, Raggio snapped, ''Why should we be pushed into this decision today? We represent the people of this state, not the Masonic Lodge.''

''If it's a win-win situation for the state today, it will probably be a win-win situation down the road,'' he said, noting that there's more and more pressure to develop around the community college.

Wilcox said the state's land is now worth at least $1 million and would be worth three times that or more once a development plan is completed.

As part of that plan, existing building rights on the Masons' land, farther west at the mouth of Ash Canyon, would be transferred to the state land, allowing for more development density on the state property.

Wilcox said Carson City would like the Masons' land left undeveloped, and has expressed interest in the joint venture. She added that the money paid the state would go into a fund for public schools - and there's no assurance the state's profit would get much higher by waiting several years before making a deal.

The panel also was told there's an anti-growth sentiment developing in Carson City that could make such a joint venture more difficult in the future.

The Masons have owned their land since 1872. The state has owned its land for about 70 years.


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