By Nicole Barde
Storey County is a county known as business friendly because we fast track (short cut) our processes. Storey County is here to help the TRI developer ( Lance Gilman ) get his land rezoned so he can sell it and make his money more easily. County managment is here to help businesses get in and get going fast. Yep, our county Ordinance , written and approved by county management, short cut liquor license process worked out so well.
This week’s agenda only had three agenda items but the meeting lasted about three hours. County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary of the meeting is at the end of this article.
Much of the time was spent in staff updates and the quarterly budget updates. Recorder Jen Chapman gave a summary of how the new federal loan protection rules are affecting the recorder’s office. Needless to say it has created a great deal of extra work as well as severe fines if any of the requirements are not met. Our federal government helping again.
County Manager reported that the county will be purchasing yet another parking lot.
The budget updates showed two things. The first is that the majority of departments are at or near where they should be in their budgets with 25% of their budgets being spent. Those who are outside of that report that overtime is pushing many of those numbers and that because “business is booming” in TRI, dispatch, the recorder, sheriffs and fire departments are all under pressure to meet those needs. The question came up about adding to staff and Pat Whitten said that we’ll run with overtime for now and assess the long term need. It’s more expensive to add to headcount. This makes sense as long as the people don’t burn out.
Deny Dotson, VCTC, reported that his revenue budget will likely see a dip due to the loss of gaming revenue from the closure of the Delta and Bonanza. This means he’ll continue eating into the ever shrinking VCTC general fund.
Revenues to the county overall are on track and over last year’s numbers.
Cherie Nevin Community Services Coordinator presented an overview of the State of Nevada Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for the coming year. It is a requirement of the grant process that there be three public informational meetings to describe the specifics and to allow for public comment on what types of programs or projects should be considered for submission. You can find the summary in the agenda packet. The agenda action report states that this is the first of a series of meetings for public comment to be heard. Commissioner Jack McGuffey asked Cherie if these funds could be used to build a community center in the Highlands and was told no.
After Cherie had finished with her presentation I raised my hand and got up to make some comments and ask a few questions and was not allowed to do so by Commission Chair Marshall McBride. I asked if there was going to be public comment allowed on this item and he said no, it was discussion only.
Given that this presentation/meeting for public comment was incorrectly advertised for Monday the 19th to begin with and given that no public comment was allowed in this commission meeting I will assume that there will be three actual public comment meetings in the future since this one clearly did not allow for it.
The CDBG program is a great program for us all and is aimed at:
-The development of suitable living environments
-providing decent housing
-creation of economic opportunities in rural parts of the state
Projects are aimed at:
-benefitting low to moderate income households or persons
-elimination of slums and blight
-meeting an urgent community development need
To date only the Lockwood community qualifies under the low to moderate income criteria. There is an income survey currently ongoing in Mark Twain to help that community to qualify as well. Hopefully people will submit those surveys quickly.
Some of the projects that Storey County has had funded in the past are : the kitchen at the VC Senior Center, VC swimming pool ADA upgrades, VC Water and Sewer masterplan, VC Wastewater Reconstruction, VC Gold Hill sewer system upgrades and Canyon GID reconstruction phase 2 among others. As you can see most are centered in VC. That is why it’s important that the Mark Twain residents get the income survey in so they can also get some of these funds.
I privately asked Cherie if the Highlands would qualify for funds to do a comprehensive water survey to determine where we stand currently and in the future. Altho we don’t qualify based on low income I believe we could based on the potential for a “ blighted area” if we continue to run dry on wells. I think this study would go a long way to help us determine if we need to start looking at corrective actions including forming a GID if the problem is severe.
The next item to be discussed was the second reading of an ordinance to amend Storey County’s building and zoning codes. Title 17 to be exact. This was quite detailed and very thorough. There were lots of changes so you may want to look over what was changed in the attached agenda packet.
The final agenda item was the second reading of an ordinance to allow a rezoning of TRI to include a classification for Industrial-Commercial. This IC designation would allow for certain mixed use industrial and commercial uses. Specifically to allow large scale casinos, car dealerships, stores and other commercial entities to co-locate. The specific area being discussed is the TRI parcel that Storey County got from Washoe County for Lance Gilman in 2014. Commissioner Gilman recused himself from the actual public vote since this involves TRI. Ironic.
The thing that was unusual about this vote was that the Commissioners approved this against the recommendation of the planning commission. The Planning Commission voted to approve the changes but to require casinos to get a SUP. The SUP would add time and protections to the building process. Pat Whitten’s staff recommendation was to approve the ordinance without any SUP requirements for the casinos. He specifically stated that they did not want to make it difficult for the businesses or the developer (AKA Lance Gilman). He further stated that the County wants to incentivize rapid development and help the developer (AKA Lance Gilman) thru pre-approved and pre-planned use. Nice.
HELP THE DEVELOPER.
It HELPS that the developer is also a county commissioner.
It will be interesting to see who else benefits personally, besides Lance Gilman, with these changes.
To his credit Jack McGuffey asked questions about businesses who might produce or store chemicals or toxic products and the possible negative environmental impact since this is close to the river. He was basically told that won’t happen. We’ll see.
Pat Whitten went on to say that the county is known as a business friendly county. That is because we can expedite and fast track ( aka short cut) the processes to help businesses get going fast. Well, we just saw what a fast track liquor license process let into the county and the pain it has caused people. Because of our loose applicant and background check requirements, our fast track process did not uncover Vincent Malfitano’s past financial issues and people lost jobs. I have to wonder what else our other short cut processes missed, will miss in the future and will let in ?
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