Mound House gypsum mine turned down for special-use permit

After running a milling operation on his gypsum mine in Mound House for the past 14 months, owner Art Wilson has to start all over from scratch.

Lyon County commissioners Tuesday rejected his request to continue milling at the mine after neighbor Melinda Cash and others complained about a molasses-like odor, dust and traffic.

Wilson won't have to shut down the operation right away, because the county will allow him to keep working during the process of obtaining a special-use permit.

"We're going to go back to the planning commission for a new special-use permit," he said. "Go through the whole process all over again."

The special-use permit was denied on the grounds the strong odor of molasses and increased truck traffic created a health and safety hazard and adversely affected Wilson's neighbors on Linehan Road. The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Don Tibbals opposed.

The commission can hear the issue again.

The planning commission last month approved the permit, giving Wilson six months to comply. At that meeting, he said he didn't request a special-use permit before the mill was in operation because he didn't know he had to, since his mine was grandfathered in.

The mine, which has been in operation for more than 40 years, predates zoning laws in Lyon County and is not required to have a special-use permit. But since the milling operation is new, it is required to have one. Commissioners could only address issues related to the milling operation.

Cash questioned whether compliance would be enforced and reiterated that the smell was adversely affecting her.

"The odor drove me from my home," Cash said. "I'm almost retired, and he's going to ruin my retirement if I have to sit home and smell this all day."

Commissioner Bob Milz said there have been many complaints about the mine.

"It seems like (Wilson will) only do it when he has to do it," he said.

Commissioner Leroy Goodman was firmly against the special-use permit. He suggested the county use code-enforcement rules to address non-milling issues at the mine such as inadequate restroom facilities.

"Wilson used to work with my father in the mines in Silver City and Gold Hill," Goodman said. "He's been around a long time. He knows the rules, and he also knows how to get around them. He needs to comply."

Wilson missed the part of Tuesday's meeting related to his permit. Wilson said he was ill and thought his request wouldn't come up until after 2 p.m. because it was No. 27 on the agenda. It was heard before lunch, at about 11:30 a.m.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ or 882-2111, ext. 351.


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