City reaches agreement with Carson auto dealers
Carson City will drop its federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, releasing the sale of 144 acres in northern Douglas County after entering into an agreement Thursday with two Carson auto dealers.
The decision ends a year of legal battles over the prime real estate Carson officials feared would attract the development of an auto mall and deplete a major source of the city’s tax revenue. It also buys time for city officials to negotiate a deal to locate the auto mall inside city limits.
Supervisor Robin Williamson said the agreement with dealers Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer was “probably the best that we could get.”
Hohl and Cryer were the winning bidders on the Douglas County parcel in August, offering $14.6 million for the land. A federal lawsuit filed by the city in July argues the BLM did not follow federal land management rules before offering the land for sale and failed to properly assess economic and environmental effects.
The city agreed to drop its legal action Thursday to allow Hohl and Cryer to finalize the sale. As a stipulation, the dealers agreed to not allow auto sales on the land for up to two years and negotiate with the city to find a suitable place in Carson for an auto mall.
“I certainly believe that we did what was necessary in terms of filing the protest and going forward on the legal things,” Williamson said. “I had always said from the beginning, if I could get some kind of deed restriction for some period of time, I would agree with that. We needed to do what we did.”
The city has spent an estimated $425,000 in legal fees to a Washington, D.C., law firm since last October to fight the sale.
City officials, including supervisors Richard Staub and Shelly Aldean, began negotiating with the dealers after they purchased the land. Staub excused himself from discussion on Thursday’s actions after disclosing he is paid counsel to an auto dealer’s association for workers’ compensation claims. Hohl is an investor in the association.
Cryer said he and Hohl are pleased with the agreement and the city’s decision to drop the lawsuit. The next step will be to locate a piece of land in Carson for the mall. The two haven’t determined where that would be yet, Cryer said.
“Our next thoughts were, now we know the direction we’re going and we now need to sit down and agree on a game plan and put it together,” Cryer said following the meeting. “We’re in a win-win situation. Carson and Douglas and Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer have just an awful good opportunity together for everybody.”
Hohl owns Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, GMC, Honda and Subaru franchises and an RV dealership in Carson. Cryer, a Reno resident, owns Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth franchises in Carson.
Mayor Ray Masayko defended the city’s legal actions against the sale of the BLM land in Douglas County. He said Carson leaders had tried many times to work with Douglas County and the BLM to find common ground before filing legal action.
“I grow tired and weary and aggravated at some of the comments in the newspaper regarding Carson City and their dispute,” Masayko said. “Unfortunately you can’t have negotiations and can’t settle anything when you’re talking to yourself. The only recourse was to file the lawsuit.
“We have tried many, many times to make those kind of relationships work,” he said. “We’re fighting for the citizens of Carson City; that’s what we’re elected to do.”
Supervisor Pete Livermore said he was appalled by recent comments by Douglas commissioners criticizing Carson for its legal actions and hoped things would change after the lawsuit was dropped.
“I hope tomorrow we wake up and the dust has settled and we can go forth cooperatively and constructively,” Livermore said.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.