Debate over cityhood returns to Pahrump
December 27, 2004
LAS VEGAS – Since 1991, three separate ballot measures have sought to change Pahrump from a town to a city. In each case, voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
Now the incorporation debate is back in Nye County’s largest community, and this time those backing cityhood want to change more than just Pahrump’s legal designation.
A group calling itself the Sunrise Cityhood Association has floated a plan to turn the heart of Pahrump into the brand new city of, you guessed it, Sunrise.
Leading the charge is Lorrin Peterson, who moved to Pahrump six years ago after retiring from his job as program manager in the aerospace industry.
Peterson, 83, championed incorporation the last time it appeared on the ballot in 2000, but that proposal involved the entire town of Pahrump and was rejected by more than 60 percent of voters.
This time, supporters of incorporation plan to avoid the ballot, at least at first, by taking the proposed charter directly to the Legislature for approval.
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If state lawmakers sign off on incorporation, those living within Sunrise city could be asked to vote on the charter during a special election in August or September of 2005.
The cityhood process could be finished as early as mid-2006, Peterson said.
Located 60 miles west of Las Vegas, Pahrump is home to about 30,000 people, roughly three-quarters of Nye County’s total population.
The current township boundaries take in more than 300 square miles. Sunrise would cover about 37 square miles, including Pahrump’s commercial hub and its most developed residential areas.
Peterson said the city would have a population of 13,000.
Assuming at least 51 percent of those polled approve of the idea, Peterson said cityhood supporters will take their case to the Legislature in early February.
Tim Hafen moved to Pahrump in 1951 to grow cotton. He is one of the valley’s largest developers.
“This town is going to change,” he said. “I think we could have a more effective government from a community of like interests. Pahrump has its own problems down here, and they need to be handled from Pahrump.”
Harley Kulkin was one of the loudest critics of past incorporation efforts, but intends to keep an open mind this time around.
“I understand their frustration with the county,” he said of Sunrise supporters. “Nothing ever changes.”
Even so, Kulkin is perfectly happy to see his neighborhood excluded from the Sunrise city limits, and he remains skeptical about the huge financial benefits that some people link to incorporation.
“Douglas County and the Lake Tahoe area is one of the richest parts of the state, and it’s unincorporated,” Kulkin said. “People just think you incorporate and all this magic money appears.”
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com