BLM decision on Carson's land protest put off until two counties meet

Douglas County and Carson City hope to hold a joint meeting this month that some think may resolve a dispute over sale of 146 acres of public land in northern Douglas County, officials said Monday.

The meeting could result in Carson City officials withdrawing their protest, which is preventing the Bureau of Land Management from auctioning the land.

Douglas County Commissioner Kelly Kite said he believes the counties can find common ground on many issues surrounding retail development in northern Douglas County.

"We're hopeful," Kite said. "It will be better than us standing on the county line lobbing shells at each other."

Originally set for Dec. 10, Douglas County wanted BLM to sell the land, which would probably result in commercial development of the site.

Carson City City Manager John Berkich protested the sale in November, saying BLM had not completed sufficient economic analyses and impact studies.

Carson officials have also expressed a concern recently that Douglas County will entice automotive dealers to move from Carson, robbing the city of a valuable sales-tax revenue source.

The protest halted the auction, causing Douglas commissioners to speak out harshly against Carson.

Several informal lunch meetings in the past month between two Douglas County commissioners and two Carson City supervisors have resulted in the enough progress to warrant calling the special meeting, officials said.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29, said Douglas County Administrator Dan Holler.

Kite and Douglas Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen met a number of times over that last month with Carson supervisors Robin Williamson and Pete Livermore. The meetings were kept small as to not violate state public meeting laws, Kite said.

"The positive thing is, we're talking to each other and trying to work together," Williamson said.

The boards were hoping to meeting earlier this month, but due to Supervisor Jon Plank's death and the legal process required to select his replacement, the meeting may need to be postponed, Williamson said.

Nevada BLM Director Bob Abbey will delay making a decision on Carson's protest until after the county officials meet, said BLM spokeswoman Jo Simpson. The decision was expected at the beginning of this month.

"The director is not going to take action on it," Simpson said Monday. "We want to see what they may do."

Williamson said the possible withdrawal of Carson's protest has been requested to be added as a agenda item for the joint meeting, with the possibility of taking action on the item.

The meeting will also focus on regional issues, including housing and development, Williamson said. She hopes the counties can work on ways to attract retail outlets to the region that will benefit both counties.

"The whole idea is that we recognize we're stronger if we work together," Williamson said.

Livermore said the meeting is still tentative, but he would be willing to discuss the withdrawal of Carson's protest if both sides can agree. The four representatives have basically just shaken hands at this point, agreeing to try to find solutions.

"Just getting them to the table, getting them to Carson City will be a momentous opportunity for us," Livermore said.


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