By Nicole Barde
The agenda for this meeting can be found HERE, County Manager Pat Whitten’s summary HERE and a recording of the meeting HERE.
Staff updates were fairly brief and the key points covered well in the update sent from Pat Whittens office. Included in this update was a rebuttal by HR manager Austin Osborn to the Comstock Chronicles’ articles about the various leaks of confidential County information to news outlets and reporters. He went thru the actual email requests and county responses. He was offended that the articles stated that the County had failed to respond to the inquiries and he said that he had evidence that they had in fact responded.  DA Anne Langer also noted that there has been quite an uptick in requests for information and that the County strives to meet the 5 day timeframe but that it may take longer due to workload and the type of question being researched.
Comptroller Hugh Gallagher announced that he would present the quarterly budget versus actuals report at the next Commission meeting. He said that although they are still working the numbers that it looks like they are at 34% of revenues and 21% of expenses one quarter into the budget year. If these numbers hold that’s a good thing…so far so good. He also said that the annual audit would be completed by the November meeting.
Deputy DA Lumos reported that the Malfitano litigation decision has been appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Pat Whitten reported that he had taken over 75 people out to TRI from the Economic Development Conference he attended at UNR. He said that they had no idea of the scope of what was going on out there. They were quite impressed. He also said that they are progressing with the interviews for the new Public Works Director replacing the retiring Mike Nevin.

Board updates were also brief and covered well in the summary from Pat Whitens office.
Agenda item #9 was a request for help with tainted water issues by Lockwood/River District resident Larry Huddleston. He presented a chronology of events regarding residents experiencing brown/cloudy water and the tests conducted to determine its quality. There were conflicting test results, the illness of a pregnant resident due to bacteria in the water and other examples where it looked like the Canyon GID was not responding properly to the residents’ water quality concerns. He also said that people were afraid to speak up for fear that the GID would turn their water off.
Then representatives from the Canyon GID took the podium to respond to the issues highlighted by Larry Huddleston. They stated that they were not aware of some of the tests referred to by Larry and that they had responded to those issues that were brought to their attention. They further stated that the water quality is frequently and routinely tested and that if it was unsafe the regulatory agency would get involved. They said that the manganese and iron issues are an aesthetic issue and not a pollutant, and that the arsenic levels are within standard… this point images of Flint Michigan flashed in front of my eyes…but I digress…..
The Canyon GID representatives noted that they do believe that there are some homes experiencing some issues probably due to older water heaters and rusty house piping which can also discolor the water. Another possible cause was this summers fire near TRI which required many fire hydrants to become operational and that can cause some churning of debris in the system but it should be temporary. They also noted that when they asked the residents in attendance at a recent meeting if they were having water problems only 2-3 raised their hands.
Pat Whitten suggested that the Canyon GID representatives sit down with him and Larry Huddleson to review the issues, determine what action needs to be taken and see what can be done.
The next agenda item was a discussion about the business application submitted by MM R&D LLC for a medical marijuana dispensary on C Street.
The bottom line is that they were denied. They were denied because our zoning ordinance prohibits it. They are suing the county.
Now, to start with, they got their license a couple of years ago. The ordinance was in place at that time. Seeing that ordinance why they decided to come to VC in the first place escapes me. Although in reading that ordinance it seems a bit loose….at least to me.
17.12.100 General provisions for C, CR, I-1, I-2, and I-3 zones……………

B.    Uses involving the sale, display, or use of marijuana or any illegal drugs or paraphernalia commonly used or associated with the use of marijuana or any illegal drug, such as glass pipes, water pipes, roach clips, bongs, etc., is prohibited. Accessory items related to the use and sale of legal tobacco products such as rolling papers, rolling machines, tobacco pipes and pipe maintenance items are not considered “drug paraphernalia” unless they are associated with the above prohibited items.
The “loose” part to me is “or use of marijuana” … doesn’t say legal or illegal. So if the Commissioners wanted to interpret it or change it to mean only illegal marijuana then they could allow a dispensary. But that is not how they are going to use it. Although ……we have changed the brothel ordinance in the recent past to accommodate such things as “estate planning” for its owner….but I digress.
There was no other explanation or discussion about the rationale for the denial other than “our ordinance doesn’t allow it”. I mean, is the ordinance based on a principal, a concern for safety and crime, on a moral basis? We don’t allow brothels on C Street or in VC…..why is that? Is this the same rationale as that?

The other denial criteria for denial was the definition of pharmacy:
Pharmacy. The term “pharmacy” refers to a store or shop licensed by the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy where drugs, controlled substances, poisons, medicines, or chemicals (not including marijuana and related products) are stored, displayed, possessed, compounded, dispensed, or sold at retail. The term does not include an institutional pharmacy as defined by NRS 639. The storage, possession, dispensing, or display for sale or retail of “medicinal marijuana” or any other substance found to be illegal by the State of Nevada or United States of America is not considered a pharmaceutical use and is prohibited.
There was lots of public comment on this item. The owner of the company, his employees, a nurse, their lawyer, a Sparks dispensary worker, several Storey County residents. The “pro” arguments were primarily about the benefits of the drug, the need for a closer source for Storey County residents, the potential revenue to the county. But mostly about the efficacy of the drug in its various forms to ease pain and suffering. I have personally seen the positive effects on critically ill people and have seen the need for it with certain types of seizures in children. So the “sale” on this basis was easy…..but ineffective given the objections.
The “con” arguments cited some statistics around safety and crime but mostly boiled down to NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). Having a dispensary on C Street and in town was a nonstarter for these residents.
Prior to the vote being taken when the board members had the opportunity to speak on it Commissioner Lance Gilman stated that he had 11 business licenses, that they are “drug free’ and that he is not comfortable with drugs. Really?……legal prescription pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety medications ARE DRUGS. They are currently being used and/or abused by many, many people including, I’m sure, by his employees.  Prescription medical marijuana is a drug and addresses pain, muscle spasms and anxiety as well and it too is legal.  What’s the difference?
I can understand NIMBY as it relates to within the VC community. What I don’t understand is why this particular ordinance isn’t mirroring the brothel ordinance in at least one respect and that is by allowing the dispensary in Storey County ….just not allowing it in VC proper.
 I mean…..we can hardly stand on principle and a moral high ground.  We have your bars, your gambling, and your prostitution…all of which have the potential for abuse, violence and crime as a result of those activities…none of which seem to serve a compassionate purpose with the capacity to ease crippling pain, mitigate seizures in children, aid people in keeping food down after horrific treatments and help the terminally ill have a measure of quality in their life.
NOPE…let’s take a stand on drugs……let’s have more bars, more gambling, more prostitution!

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