SILVER SPRINGS -- A group of residents was turned away from a Lyon County committee meeting on possible changes to regulations governing watchman's quarters.
On arriving at the Lyon County Road Division offices Monday in Silver Springs to attend the meeting of a review committee, about 20 watchman's quarters residents were told it was not a public meeting and asked to leave.
Watchman's quarters -- homes located on a piece of industrial property -- have been an issue in Lyon County, where some people complain they are used as way to get around zoning restrictions.
They are allowed as owner's homes in industrial zones. Using them as rental residences is illegal, however, and there have been increasing complaints of owners abusing the no-rent policy.
Mound House business owner and watchman's quarters resident Linda Grove said the group who showed up at the meeting wanted to find out what changes were planned and to be involved in the process of developing any changes.
"The committee has no agendas, no public meetings, nothing we can refer to and only a few basic people are there. We wanted to have some input prior to their presenting a prepared ordinance so we would not have to fight what we do not agree with at the next level. They told us it was a private meeting and then they locked the door," she said.
"This issue is so vital to so many lives we think there should be some public input, but they don't think we need to be there."
While disappointed at not being able to participate, Grove said they would keep working to get residents' opinions known, and "hope there will be some public meetings prior the drawing up of the proposal."
Ken Gardner, Planning Commission representative to the committee, confirmed the meetings
do not fall under Nevada's Open Meeting Law because members were not appointed by elected officials. Lyon County Manager Stephen Snyder created the committee in mid-1999.
According to Gardner, others present at Monday's meeting included Public Works Director Chuck Swanson, Road Manager Gary Fried, Community Development Director John Evasovic, Landmark Homes representative Glen Martel, former Landmark Homes employee Ron Kipp and Silver Springs resident and manufactured housing dealer Jim Snellings. Silver Springs residents Kay Bennett and Larry Owen were also present.
Gardner said Bennett and Owen requested they be included on the committee a few months ago when watchman's quarters became an issue. Bennett and husband Hale are owners of the Silver Springs Airport and have a special use permit to live in a mobile home watchman's quarters on their airport property.
Gardner initiated the recent debate when he proposed to phase out all watchmen's quarters. He said the rural nature of the county existing when ordinance was established has now changed, outdating the need for residential units within industrial zones. Others believe the homes are a threat to future industrial development.