Carson City's protest against a public-land auction in Douglas County could ultimately delay 146 acres of commercial development at the site for two years, officials say.
Douglas County commissioners will take a hard look at the issue at their meeting Thursday when county staff present three options, said County Manager Dan Holler.
Carson City officials will not attend the meeting.
The land in question is across from Wal-Mart Supercenter on Highway 395 between the Highway 50 cutoff and Jacks Valley Road. Bureau of Land Management is scheduled to auction it for commercial development Dec. 10, with the opening bid set at $6.5 million.
Carson City filed a notice of appeal and petition for stay with the Bureau of Land Management in late November, citing BLM's failure to fully study the economic, fiscal, air quality, traffic, housing, public service, solid-waste disposal and infrastructure impacts of development on the land.
If an agreement is not reached with Carson City by Dec. 10, the public auction will be stalled.
If Carson City and Douglas County can't agree on a solution quickly, Douglas will not see new revenue-producing stores open at the site for at least four years, Holler said.
Ideally, Douglas County would like Carson City to withdraw its protest, allowing the sale to go forward as scheduled. If so, Douglas and Carson could then approach the Legislature as a team to hash out a solution to a retail-sales revenue program that currently forces Carson City to share a portion of its revenues with revenue-poor counties like Douglas, Holler said.
"The real issue for (Carson City) is, they lose those dollars," he said.
If BLM is allowed to sell the open land, Carson City faces the loss of more retail dollars as many big-box stores remain vacant in town. The city estimates it lost nearly $1 million a year when Wal-Mart left town to set up its supercenter in Douglas County, just beyond the Carson City limits.
Douglas stands to gain an estimated $800,000 in sales revenue from the sale of the land -- and even more when stores open and money starts flowing.
Carson Mayor Ray Masayko said the issue is administrative in nature. It deals with economic impacts that were not studied as required before the announcement of the land auction, he said.
"I say it's as simple as following the rules and regulations for the (environmental impact study) promised for the sale," Masayko said.
The mayor believes Douglas County is premature in discussing the protest with its commissioners Thursday. He does not plan to attend the meeting.
"I'm willing to sit down with the commissioners to talk about items of mutual agreement and mutual disagreement," Masayko said. "But Thursday is not the time and place for me."
If Carson City does not withdraw its protest, Douglas could continue the sale until after the state Legislature reviews the issue, Holler said. That would allow the sale to proceed next year.
If all else fails, Douglas will wait until a decision is made by BLM officials about the protest. Following the decision, it is likely Carson or Douglas would appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, a process that could take an additional 18 months to two years to resolve.
Holler said the county is concerned about what Carson City's protest means to public land sales throughout the state. If city officials are unwilling to drop the protest, Douglas would be much less likely to help Carson City deal with the tax revenue-sharing issue and work on a solution legislatively until after the appeal is heard, Holler said.
"My issue is, why bother?" he said. "I would just as soon wait at that point."
IF YOU GO
What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners' meeting
When: 1 p.m. Thursday
Where: 1594 Esmeralda Ave., Minden