Commissioners uphold planning commission decision

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After a half hour of discussion in a public hearing, Churchill County commissioners unanimously upheld Feb. 19 the recommendation of their planning commission to deny a special use permit to operate a home-based business for pallet recycling.

Navy veteran Ramiro Cardenas-Arceo was appealing the planning commission’s Jan. 9 decision. The planning commission had concerns Cardenas-Arceo does not reside on the property on Lakeview Drive, which is owned by his brother-in-law and outside storage. Cardenas-Arceo had stacked palettes near the property line.

Area residents testified before the commission. Douglas Lewis, who lives two parcels west of the property in question, said Cardenas-Arceo has been operating the business for about a year without a license. Lewis said he had concerns of fire consuming the pallets that were used for fire-training exercises.

“They should be in single rows, the storage area fence with fireproof fencing,” Lewis said.

Lewis also had concerns with the response time from the fire department in case of a fire, figuring it could take firefighters up to a half hour to respond.

Patricia McEwen, who lived three houses from the property, said she would like to see the pallets moved away from the fence, but she was not opposed to the pallet business.

“I don’t see anything wrong with their business,” she said.

Nearby resident Arthur Jones said he’s attempting to clean up the brush and trees on his property to minimize fire danger in case the pallets go up in flames. He said he has concerns about the pallets, which he said are stacked about 30 high.

Commission Chairman Pete Olsen said he drove to the property and said the stacks looked neat and tidy. Cardenas-Arceo, though, said he reduced the tacks to about 20 pallets high. Commissioner Bus Scharmann said he had concerns about the pallets, which were located near burned pallets, and also the location near the property line.

“You’re asking us to bend the rules from us, so to speak,” Olsen said. “You don’t live there. It’s not a home-based business.”

Olsen suggested Cardenas-Arceo buy or lease property.

“I looked at it, but it’s pretty expensive,” Cardenas-Arceo said.

Commissioner Carl Erquiaga said he was torn apart on the issue.

“You wanting to run a business will bring you to a new level of scrutiny,” he said. “Fire is the biggest issue I have with it now.”

Olsen chimed in, saying not enough boxes for approval were checked.

“I’m leaning toward upholding the planning commission recommendation,” he said.

Scharmann encouraged Cardenas-Arceo to meet with the Small Business Development director for the Churchill Economic Development Authority to inquire about loans for property that are available for veterans.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to uphold the prior recommendation.

Nathan Strong, executive director of CEDA, appeared before commissioners to ask for continued support and to update the agency’s activities.

Strong said CEDA’s Business Council has increased from 44 to 66 members, and in 2018, Ormat became CEDA’s first corporate member in a long time. He also said the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno has become a supporting member.

Furthermore, Strong said the Small Business Development Center has 139 clients, which includes 77 new clients, and nine newly created businesses. He said 44 jobs were created, and 29 retained. He said the SBDC works in development in five areas: industrial/commercial, economic, housing, community and workforce. CEDA, according to Strong, has a strong working relationship with both the Churchill County School District and Western Nevada College, which has brought back its truck-driving school.

“Would you classify CEDA actively recruiting new business,” Scharmann asked.

“Yes,” Strong replied.

Strong said the development leads are leading to relationships and networking. He said one or two businesses are interested in Churchill County, and eight to 10 are follow-ups.

Erquiaga said he attended a workforce development meeting, and the culture is changing for post-secondary schooling.

Strong said the partnerships are “fabulous” in the community. He said a first-year eighth-grade exploratory course at Churchill County Middle School exposes students to the 20 Career and Technical Education courses offer at the high school.

Commissioners approved to support CEDA with $85,000.

The Bureau of Land Management gave commissioners its first update in almost two months. Because of the federal government shutdown, the BLM was one of the affected agencies.

Ken Collum, field officer for the Stillwater Field Office, said the BLM will spread a fire-resistant seed on the areas burned by the Draw and Bravo-17 fires during the summer of 2017, and approval was given for the Tungsten Mountain Solar Plant in January.

Several off-road races are planned this year. Collum said the High Desert Endurance Race is set for May and will attract 15-20 participants. The Vegas to Reno route will be the same as last year’s, but Collum said the BLM also wants to look at three to four different routes for future races.

Collum caught everyone’s attention when he mentioned the BLM issued a film permit for the Fairview Peak area for the new Top Gun movie. He noted the Resource Management Plan should be signed in April.

Commissioners asked Collum if the BLM sent the Navy additional comments about the military’s proposed modernization and expansion of the Fallon Training Range Complex. Collum said the agency contributed its comments as a cooperating agency that led the Navy to accept Alternative 3.

“After that we have no comments forthcoming,” Collum said.

In other business, commissioners took the following action:

Approved and adopted the 2019 Water and Water Utilities master plan.

Approved an agreement with Shaw Engineering to provide professional consultation and engineering services on an as-needed basis.

Approved renewal of a lease agreement with Lyon County to provide space for the Lyon County Differential Response Partnership.

Authorized to increase its amount to $30,000 for preparation of an Amicus Brief briefing filed in the Nevada Supreme Court, case No. 75917.

Approved a proposal work by Precision Water Resources Engineering for the development and documentation of a methodology to determine the 100-year flood flow below Lahontan Dam for $5,040


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