Watchman's quarters still stirring up controversy

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MOUND HOUSE -- Potential changes in Lyon County codes governing watchman's quarters continues to stir debate among business owners.

Ever since Lyon County Planning Commission member Ken Gardner noted the ordinance was under review and suggested the possibility of eliminating the residential units, business owners have expressed opposition to any changes prohibiting the homes on properties showing a need for 24-hour on-site surveillance.

According to Public Works Director Chuck Swanson, the review committee is not leaning toward major changes.

"The way it looks right now, the ordinance seems OK. It's just a matter of enforcement. I am here to get feedback from residents as to your major concerns," Swanson told a group of residents at last week's Mound House Advisory Council meeting.

He said the committee's recommended changes would go to the county manager and then to the county commissioners. Actual proposed changes will then come back to the advisory boards for review.

Residents, however, expressed apprehension changes could be inserted that may hurt their lifestyle and property rights.

Advisory Council Chairman Chuck Roberts agreed it is a lifestyle issue, as well as an issue of protecting the business owners' financial investment versus protecting the property rights of people.

"It is a lifestyle choice to live adjacent to their business. The only complaints I have heard revolve around the rental properties," he said.

He also questioned the rationale of granting the special use permit allowing watchman's quarters to properties showing no viable business needing protection.

"In the long term, if you don't deal with what is causing this you are just going to revisit it again in the future," Roberts said.

Noting the recent controversy appeared to be triggered by protests from watchman's quarters residents to a tantalum manufacturing plant coming into the Mound House industrial area, local resident Dan Rice suggested the ordinance changes are being proposed so the county can attract larger, "big box" industries.

"The county wants to get away from 'mom and pop' industry. They want big box industry to come into the county so they can sell residential lots here. People have to understand, if they want to live on their industrial property they have to live next door to other industrial properties."

The consensus of those in attendance was to leave the ordinance as is and hope the county's new code enforcement officer would more efficiently enforce it.

A subcommittee of Mound House residents will review proposed changes and submit recommendations to Swanson.


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