Supreme Court again says Carson can't charge for abandoned streets

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Supreme Court justices were no kinder to Carson City in the second hearing in the battle over whether it can charge property owners when it abandons a street or road.

Justices reaffirmed September 2001 ruling: the city got the land by dedication from the property owners and can't charge when the property reverts to those owners.

The issue was raised after the city abandoned part of Ninth Street to Carson Station in 1989. City officials charged $125,000 for the street land, arguing the the city owned it in the public's name and interest.

The issue came up again in 1997 when the city abandoned parts of Eighth, Ninth and South Plaza streets to Millard Realty without charge -- then changed its mind a year later and demanded $128,898 in payment for the property.

It was Millard who brought suit, joined by Capital City Entertainment and Carson Station, which asked for their money back from the 1989 abandonment.

Attorneys argued for Capital City Entertainment and Millard that Carson City acquired the property by dedication and that, since no cash changed hands when it was dedicated to the city, Carson officials can't now demand money to return the property to the same parcel it was originally a part of.

City officials argued the city got the streets, roads and alleyways when the townsite was released from the federal government in 1866.

The Supreme Court reviewed its original decision backing Capital City Entertainment and, although some of the reasoning in the order changed, the end result was the same in Wednesday's new order.

"Because the federal government dedicated the streets in Carson City to public use, with title vesting in the municipality, state law precludes Carson City from extracting payment as a condition of abandoning streets," the order concludes.

This means Millard doesn't have to pay for the property beneath the streets it acquired from the city and that the city must repay Capital City Entertainment the $125,000 it paid for part of Ninth Street in 1989.


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