Gas plant lawsuit derails approval of master plan amendments

DAYTON -- Legal wranglings over the closure of a gas plant has delayed a final decision on a request for 21 changes to a recently adopted land-use master plan.

Acting on the recommendation of District Attorney Leon Aberasturi, Lyon County commissioners on Thursday expressed reservations in allowing increased residential development in the area of the closed plant.

They agreed to conduct further discussions with Chase Development in January.

Noting negotiations regarding a lawsuit filed against Lyon County by Advanced Specialty Gases were still going on. Aberasturi said experts have recommended a 1 1/2- to 3-mile buffer around the plant.

"ASG could be open in six months," the district attorney said. "When we were having our (October 2001) hearings, we had the same developers here saying no one is going to buy or move into this area, yet here today we have a master plan intending to bring 4,800 homes in.

"You are bringing higher densities closer to ASG with this master plan. The commissioners have to be aware the lawsuit may not go in the county's favor."

The county is appealing District Court Judge David Huff's Aug. 27 decision overturning revocation of the plant's special-use operating permit. He ordered the county to pursue negotiations or hold another revocation hearing.

Advanced Specialty Gases is suing the county for $5 million.

Aberasturi said if the board voted now to change the master plan as requested and the gas plant reopens at the same site, the issue would be who will pay for needed changes to the plan, taxpayers or the developers.

"What we were told in the hearing from the developer's attorney was it would be the taxpayers. 'If we don't get rid of ASG, then our property is being affected and the taxpayers are going to have to pick up the bill,'" the district attorney said when Chase Development representative Glen Martel asked the board to move forward with a decision.

Martel agreed that if the gas plant remained, some of the proposed changes would have to be modified. "But it is important to be proactive and move towards something," he said. "If we let ASG drive the process, we are not going to make any progress."

While they complimented the proposed plan, Commissioners LeRoy Goodman and David Fulstone urged postponing any decision until the suit was resolved, which was estimated to be at least six months. However, the board agreed to Martel's request to return the issue to the Jan. 16 agenda for further discussion.


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