Battle over Comstock Mining Silver City land use decision not over
December 5, 2016
The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled both for and against Silver City residents seeking to block expansion of Comstock Mining's mine.
The decision says the Lyon County Commission didn't violate the Open Meeting Law or abuse its discretion in amending the master plan to allow the expansion.
But the state high court disagreed with the District Judge Robert Estes who threw out the claims by the Comstock Residents Association that he failed to consider the impact of the zoning change on their lands and their argument two commissioners should have been barred from voting because of conflicts of interest involving the mining company.
The association pointed to the mining company's "unprecedented" support of Bob Hastings' campaign for a commission seat and the fact that the company had a contract with the husband of then-commissioner Vida Keller, creating impermissible conflicts of interest for both.
Those two arguments were remanded to the district court for further proceedings,.
The battle over Comstock Mining's efforts to expand mining operations in the area has been going on since 2010 when the Lyon commission originally denied the application.
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After that, according to the high court decision, the company "significantly funded the campaign of one new county commissioner and employed the husband of a second new county commissioner."
After both were elected, the mining company refiled the application for a master plan zoning change to permit its expansion. The commission then approved a master plan change permitting an expansion of the mine.
The residents association also argued the commission abused its discretion in approving the mining company application but the high court panel disagreed saying the commission "relied upon substantial evidence when approving (the mining company) application.
The association tried to argue that the decision was against the goals of the master plan but the court said the issue isn't whether the decision should have been granted, that the reviewing court isn't empowered to "substitute its judgment for that of a zoning board."
"We are not permitted to reweigh the evidence to reach a different result," the decision states.