As Carson City officials prepare language for a ballot issue to determine the future of the city's fairground, a group opposed to its sale plans to sue the city to get a question of their own on the 2002 ballot.
City supervisors decided in January to seek an advisory vote during the November general election whether to preserve or commercially develop the fairgrounds.
Supervisors on Thursday will examine proposed ballot language that reads, "Should Carson City make available for commercial development city property known as the Carson Fairgrounds while retaining and approving the area known as Fuji Park?"
The board will also begin looking for Carson residents to volunteer to draft language for and against the fairgrounds proposal.
The advisory vote decision was made after the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds presented supervisors with a 3,400-signature petition asking supervisors to pass an ordinance protecting the fairgrounds and Fuji Park forever. Supervisors say Fuji Park, with up to $2 million in improvements, has been saved from potential development.
The petition voters signed asks supervisors to enact an ordinance or place the ordinance for a vote on the September primary ballot.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg contends the petition asks for an administrative change and is therefore unconstitutional. While he told supervisors the law did not require them to put a petition on the ballot, members of the Concerned Citizens to Save Fuji Park and the Fairgrounds say city officials broke the law by ignoring the direct request of the petition.
Now, after months of waiting to see if city officials would accept their petition as legal, concerned citizens president Mike Hoffman said the group will ask the courts to decide if the petition will receive a public vote.
Hoffman said group members sent a letter to the city asking it join with them in asking for an opinion from the court on the issue, but received no response.
"The big feeling we have is disappointment," he said. "'No' would have been an answer, but we got no answer at all.
"We feel we have to take the city to court to make them obey the law. The law says if we collect enough signatures, and they're verified, it shall be on the city ballot. I don't know how you get past the word 'shall' with an opinion from the (deputy) district attorney."
Concerned Citizen attorney Julian Smith said city supervisors don't have the authority to tell city Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover what he can or cannot put on the ballot. Doing so "frustrates the initiative process," he said. Smith also contends the petition is not, as Forsberg claims, an administrative issue. The petition doesn't attempt to bypass any legislative body and is instead a reaction to a legislative body's failure to act on an voter-driven request, Smith said.
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting
When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday
Where: Carson City Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.