Commissioners approve professional services for Master Plan revisions |

Commissioners approve professional services for Master Plan revisions

Mike Sciandra
County Commissioners are looking at revisions to the Master Plan, which includes provisions to restrict access — such as lands west of Fallon — by federal agenices.

The Churchill County commissioners approved a Request for Proposal (RFP) for professional services to analyze the Carson District Resource Management Plan as a part of their pending update to chapter 12 of the 2015 Master Plan.

Two meetings ago commissioners approved the Master Plan as presented by the Planning Department with the stipulation that Chapter 12, the chapter dealing with the county’s policy on public lands, would be revised and resubmitted in early 2016.

Commissioners had unanimously approved the plan pending the revision of Chapter 12 to be updated. Commissioner Bus Scharmann said part of the reason for this was that he believed it needed to be rewritten to be more specific in the protection of Churchill County public lands from infringements made by federal agencies.

The approval didn’t come without a heated discussion between commissioners and resident Bob Clifford, who sat in on the meeting to express community concerns in line with his own.

Clifford said some in the community believe that in the process of hiring a consultant the revision would benefit from consultants with a key understanding of legal precedents.

Clifford expressed concerns that the current premise makes no mention of legal expertise should policy on public lands lead to litigation involving the federal government.

“From what we’ve heard, I think that’s a gaping hole in the RFP that needs to be fixed before this is issued,” Clifford said before the commissioners engaged him after public comment.

Chairman Pete Olsen was the most vocal in opposing the idea of hiring lawyers, as well as the implication by the Bureau of Land Management implying that the commissioners were more a part of the federal government and were not adequately representing the community’s opinion in this matter.

“We have to take the advice of the district attorney,” Olsen said, “but litigation, for us against the federal government, we don’t have the resources or the funds to do something like that unless we have examples of communities that were wronged in several ways. We can’t afford lawsuits in the range of $500,000 to $1 million, and I believe it would be a damn poor use of the community’s money to do that in lawsuits that can last so long.”

Olsen went on to say while he believes the commissioners and Clifford have the same goals, their methodology is far apart. Olsen said he also believes commissioners are approaching this the way Churchill County wants to in providing an adequate and reasonable defense.

Scharmann said that his goal as a county commissioner is to avoid litigation like other communities, and that whomever the commission hires he would want someone who can work well with groups and public hearings rather than a lawyer who might rely solely on legal precedent without community consideration.

Vice chairman Carl Erquiaga said he felt the issue wasn’t as wide sweeping as people were making it out to be, at which point commissioners and Clifford were able to come to a consensus.

Other items from the agenda included the following:

Approved a motion to continue the stipend for the Churchill County Building Official for performing the duties of construction administration for the county Detention Center Project and the Senior Center Project. Motion to approve the current monthly amount through Feb. 29 and increase the amount to $5,000 a month as of March 1 approved.

Approved a motion to appoint Rachel Dahl and Rick Lattin as Churchill County representatives on the Western Nevada Development District committee.

Approved annual membership dues with Western Counties Alliance.

Heard and discussed an update on the Senior Center Facility’s construction costs and projected completion dates.

The facility is to be potentially open by December 2016, and the total cost of the project as of a final analysis in October 2015 is $4,694,027.

The facility is $774,858 from completion, while bids for contracting are being placed by several construction companies.