Elko, BLM, spar over sewer hookup

ELKO - The Elko City Council wants to hold the Bureau of Land Management responsible for development improvements before allowing a new agency building to hook up to city sewer and water services.

The BLM is building a barrack to house up to 25 hotshot firefighters on Manzanita Lane. But council members this week directed staff not to allow the water hookup until the federal agency delivers a legal opinion on improvements such as curbs and sidewalks, which the city requires of other developers.

In letters to the city, the BLM has said the agency cannot pay for improvements to non-federal land, so it cannot improve the building's frontage on Manzanita Lane. That opinion was not issued by an agency lawyer.

City development Manager Scott Wilkinson and city attorney Bob Goicoechea have asked the BLM to re-evaluate that position.

Steve Dondero of the BLM asked council members not to let the disagreement over improvements to the road affect the agency's ability to connect to city water and sewer services.

But Mayor Mike Franzoia said the ability to determine whether the BLM ties in to city services is the only leverage the city has.

"If we allow the one, the other becomes a moot point," he said.

Dondero expressed concern that the review would delay the project, scheduled to be completed in September.

Goicoechea said any delay will depend on how quickly the BLM issues a legal opinion.

"If they want to take three, four years, let them do it," he said.


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