Douglas commissioners decry 'shameful' Carson City land sale protest

As if they were Old West gunslingers ready for a showdown Thursday night, Douglas County commissioners came out firing words at Carson City's refusal to drop a protest against a public land sale.

The shootout was all one-sided, though, because Carson City officials didn't show up for the duel.

An auction by the Bureau of Land Management, set for Dec. 10, would have allowed 146 acres of more commercial development along Highway 395 east from the new Wal-Mart Supercenter. The auction is on hold indefinitely.

Carson City, already hurting from losses of retail outlets to Douglas, filed a notice of appeal and petition for stay with the bureau in late November. Carson City officials cited failure of the BLM to fully study the economic, fiscal, air quality, traffic, housing, public service, solid-waste disposal and infrastructure impacts of development on the land.

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said he was hoping Carson City would drop its appeal and bring a larger issue to the state Legislature, allowing the sale to go forward.

Holler told commissioners Thursday that talks with Carson failed to produce a compromise.

The news sparked criticism from Douglas commissioners, who were expecting Carson City supervisors or staff to come to Thursday's meeting.

"I'm dismayed to say the least," said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen. "To be honest, this (protest) is a cheap shot -- nothing more, nothing less."

Other words used to describe Carson's actions to delay the land auction included "this is a war," "audacious arrogance," "shameful" and "idiocy."

"This is the worst example of shameful politics," said Commissioner Bernie Curtis. "This is all about money."

Commissioners said they didn't know what else to do, since the BLM went above and beyond what they needed to do for the sale of the land, a process that began in 1998.

"What (Carson) wants, we can't get there," Etchegoyhen said. "What can we talk about next? Those discussions are dead."

After listening to options, commissioners directed county staff to allow Carson's protest to run its course and then intervene in any way possible after a decision is handed down by the Bureau of Land Management state director to hurry the appeal process.

By filing a protest, Carson may have delayed sale of the site for up to two years. Commissioners are hoping that by contacting the Secretary of the Interior, any appeals process of the decision can be quickly resolved.

Caught in the middle of the showdown for prime commercial development -- and the sales-tax revenue that will come along with it -- is a small group of homeowners who own property adjacent to the BLM land.

Debra Mehringer owns just over an acre of land off Topsy Lane and came to Thursday's meeting to be the eyes and ears for her neighbors. She and other residents are awaiting the sale of the land so they can sell their land for the same purpose.

She said she is frustrated by Carson's protest that will stall the transaction.

"This last-ditch effort by Carson City is pretty much a feud between counties," Mehringer said. "We want to get on with all of this. We're the little island being affected by this."

Carson City officials said earlier this week they did not intend to go to the meeting. Carson Mayor Ray Masayko said the Thursday meeting was not the time or place for the discussion.


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