City appeals decision to abandon street
Extending a lengthy legal battle over downtown street abandonment, Carson City has appealed a district court ruling to reimburse a landowner for a street he purchased 12 years ago.
“Why did the city sell me something they didn’t have the right to sell?” said Doug Hone, an investor/developer, of his City Center shopping complex. “I don’t want to fight with the city, but they had to file an appeal instead of shaking my hand and coming to an agreement with me.”
He said Mayor Ray Masayko, who publicly opposes all claims for street reimbursements, is spurring the continued legal wrangling at taxpayers’ expense.
Last month, when the city settled over a similar case, Masayko was visibly angry and railed against the decision. “It’s virtually punitive,” he said at the time. “I am at a loss to understand how they came to that conclusion.”
Masayko declined Monday to comment on the Hone case.
Carson City District Court issued a summary judgment last month in Hone’s favor, ruling he should be reimbursed the $125,000 he paid for Valley Street, now part of the City Center complex.
The city appealed Hone’s summary judgment with the Nevada Supreme Court on Oct. 4. The appeal is one of many the city has filed over street abandonment.
Carson City Deputy District Attorney Mark Forsberg said the legal tangle started when developer Dwight Millard was not charged for abandonment of Plaza Street. Millard had pointed out the federal government had dedicated the street to the city in 1905, therefore the city had never owned the street.
The city did not object and did not require payment in that case, Forsberg said, opening the door for developers who purchase abandonments to demand a refund.
Clark Russell was the first developer to file a claim for reimbursement.
The city appealed his case, but in September 2002, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled, “because the federal government dedicated the streets in Carson City to public use, with title vesting in the municipality, state law precludes Carson City from extracting payment as a condition of abandoning streets.”
The city settled with Russell in September, giving him $200,000 in cash plus $100,000 in public improvements to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada, a nonprofit of Russell’s choosing.
Included in the 2002 State Supreme Court ruling’s fine print, Forsberg said, was the statement “claimants have 25 days from the decision of board of supervisors to bring such a claim,” and that argument may work in the city’s favor in the Hone case.
If it sticks, Forsberg said, it could be applied to all properties within the city’s original township, and the city may then not have to reimburse developers.
Hone said he just wants what’s rightfully his from the city.
“They sold me something that never belonged to them. What if I had done that? Wouldn’t that be called fraud?”
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.