The former chairman of the Silver Springs General Improvement District board won't be able to live on property he purchased in 1998.
Bob Freeman, who is blind, had requested a special-use permit to utilize his 14-by-66-foot mobile home on Virginia Street in Silver Springs, on a lot zoned commercial, as a watchman's quarters so he could live on the property.
He said he planned to run a mobile home real estate business once he obtains his real estate license and mobile home sales permit, which he expects in December.
But because there was no business located on the property, the Lyon County Commissioners denied his request, as had the Silver Springs Advisory Board. The planning commission split on the issue 3-3 with one abstention.
Freeman purchased the half-acre lot with a single-wide mobile home that had been used as a mobile home sales office and didn't realize the law prohibited him from living there because of commercial zoning.
He said the Nevada Service for the Blind has been putting him through real estate school so that he can operate a mobile home service/real estate office and he needed to also live on the property.
Freeman said he had a temporary business license for the business he planned to open once he was properly licensed.
"I am totally blind now," he said. "I lived there for nine years without any problem."
Freeman lived at the property from 1998 to 2006 when he was forced to vacate due to noncompliance with county code that states no residential uses are allowed within C-2 zoning.
He said denial of the request would make it very difficult for him to get his business going and remain self-sufficient.
"I want to get that up and running," he said.
Larry Lapkin, owner of Silver State Finance Co., who sold the property to Freeman, made an impassioned plea for approval.
"Have any of you ever been blind, or had a family member who was blind?" he asked. "I think it is wrong that a blind man should be kicked out of his home because it's on the wrong side of the street. Don't deny a blind man the opportunity to make a better life for himself."
But Commissioners Bob Milz and Leroy Goodman both put the onus on Lapkin himself.
Lapkin said that he had not informed Freeman when he bought the property that it would be illegal for him to live there, saying that he found the law confusing.
"So now it's our fault?" Milz asked, who also noted that Lapkin's real estate license had expired.
"We have empathy for Mr. Freeman," Goodman said "But the fault is not with this board, the fault is sitting to the right of you (indicating Lapkin)."
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.