Commissioners express doubt county will prevail on Master Plan changes

DAYTON -- Approval of changes to a recently adopted Lyon County land-use master plan may depend on permanent closure of a gas-manufacturing plant.

But at least one county official believes the facility will be back in operation.

Commissioners made no decision last week on the changes and postponed further discussion until their Jan. 16 meeting.

Commissioner LeRoy Goodman, while complimentary of the overall proposal, said he will not support increased residential development in the area until a court decision proves him wrong.

Goodman pointed out the request from Chase Development would allow high- and medium-density residential housing next to the Advanced Specialty Gases plant and industrial park. He called it a "serious problem."

"You folks right here (area developers) were some of the biggest instigators in getting ASG closed up -- to get them out of here. Now you propose to build right up next to it, and I don't have a lot of faith in ASG being closed up, to tell you the truth.

"I don't think we (the county) are going to win. ... I think they are going to be there for a very long time. Until the courts tell me different, I am not going to put the public safety at risk."

Advanced Specialty Gases has been closed since a July 2000 explosion in its distillation-processing room. During testimony at an October 2001 hearing, developers and residents strongly urged revocation of the operating permit for the nitrogen trifluoride production facility.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to revoke the permit. Plant officials then sued the county for $5 million and appealed the decision.

Citing the reasons for revocation as insufficient, District Court Judge David Huff ordered the county to pursue negations with Advanced Specialty Gases, or hold another hearing. The county is appealing the court decision and began negotiations with plant officials in October.

Chase Development, headed by Jim Bawden, is requesting amendments to the West Central Lyon County Land Use Master Plan. The proposal involves 2,300 acres east of Dayton, north of Highway 50. If approved, it could lead to 4,800 homes being built in an area from Rose Peak to Six Mile Canyon Road. It would drastically reduce the industrial zone surrounding existing manufacturing plants.

Commissioner David Fulstone agreed it made more sense to wait before making changes and suggested the developers could be part of resolving the problem. He said it was difficult for the board to put the county in a position of allowing high-density housing adjacent to industrial plants.

"The 1990 master plan was changed (at the request of developers) to include industrial zoning and a buffer zone," Fulstone said. "The ASG problem existed long before we got where we are at right now.

"The existing and previous owners of the industrial park property were asked to come in and help resolve the problem, and at that time they decided not to participate. You are asking us to change the master plan, and, oh well, if they (ASG) end up there, I guess the county can come back and force it down your throats to change that master plan back."

"I think we are getting the cart before the horse today," District Attorney Leon Aberasturi said. "The courts will decide if negotiations are ongoing and a potential second revocation hearing would be held in late January 2003."


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