Carson bridge club dealt tough hand by city
A bridge club may need to find a new clubhouse if Carson City’s Planning Commission denies the group’s special permit on Wednesday.
Club members, who had found a cheap place to play for the past 18 months in an industrial park on Conestoga Drive, had no idea they were violating city zoning codes by setting up at the site.
The mostly senior-age card players were roped inadvertently into a city application process in December after city staff spied their advertisement in the Nevada Appeal.
Carson City Bridge Center directors Robert and Roberta Anderson were hoping to attract bridge students by advertising classes in the local paper, but soon were noticed by city license officials.
City officials quickly notified the couple they needed a business license to teach bridge. When Robert Anderson applied for the license Dec. 3, city staff researched and found out the small club was located in the Airport Industrial Zone, an area that didn’t allow social clubs.
The couple then discovered they needed to go before the Planning Commission to gain a special-use permit to continue operating the 60-member club at the site.
“It just makes no sense,” Roberta Anderson said. “We don’t bother anyone.”
Club members moved to the site because of the low cost to rent the space. With most of the players being senior citizens, club members believed the spot was ideal because of a well-lit and ample parking lot, the one-level room and kitchen and restroom facilities, Roberta Anderson said.
The club was paying $1,100 a month for a year before a member found the new space for half the price. The space previously was rented by a tile company, but had been left vacant for nearly four years, Roberta Anderson said.
Players in the club pitch in every month to cover the cost of renting and operating the place. It is used twice a week in the afternoons and once at night for bridge playing.
“It’s not really anything to make money on,” Roberta Anderson said. “It’s for prestige in the bridge community.”
The Carson City club is one of three in the area, including Reno and Minden, who compete for master points, playing in tournaments throughout the country. Some members travel internationally to play. The local group also holds an annual tournament.
Unlike the Minden club, which gets free playing space from Sharkey’s Casino, the Carson group has been unable to find an affordable location.
The city’s principal planner, Lee Plemel, said the club might have to stop operating if the commission denies the permit Wednesday.
“There is no use for a social club and no similar uses” allowed in the industrial zone, Plemel said. The Planning Commission does, however, have the authority to grant a special-use permit for the club to continue to operate. Staff has recommended denying the permit.
If the application is denied, the club can appeal the decision to the city’s Board of Supervisors, Plemel said.
Ted Barben, a Carson City Airport Authority commissioner, said he opposes the club’s presence in the industrial park mainly because of the traffic and because commercial activity doesn’t mix with industrial uses.
The Nevada Manufacturers Association has written a letter asking for the denial of the application, even though the association usually only deals with statewide issues, said executive director Ray Bacon.
The manufacturers group is a strong advocate of zoning issues. The social club would add “a lot of extra traffic,” which would create security and theft problems, he said.
“Either zoning means something or it doesn’t,” Bacon said.
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City Planning Commission regular meeting
When: 5 p.m. Jan. 29
Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.