By Nicole Barde
Last week’s Storey County Commission meeting was fairly procedural. The last couple of months have been pretty straightforward . This is in contrast to previous years where more items were brought before the commission for discussion and approval in real-time. In spite of the Open Meeting Law requirements, I believe that most of these things get discussed and decided upon prior to the meetings ( i.e. bank building purchase, Gallagher houses & lot purchase, and McBride lease option to buy with no purchase price set for the courthouse parking lot and other parcels) which is why they are often “done deals” by the time the public sees or hears of them. Oh well….things are happening….we’re just not being allowed to know what yet. Eventually they have to show up on the agenda for approval but they will be done deals by then.
The agenda had three items on it which were pushed out to later dates. One of them , “….amending Storey County Code 17.12.064 ( Public Utility uses) and permitting procedure for aboveground utility projects and renewable energy projects ….” is being pushed out for the first time. It was already presented a few meetings ago for its first reading so the second reading would be for approval. I don’t think this is strange but it is timely. In the April 9th , 2015 VCTC meeting , Commissioner Lance Gilman mentioned that Switch ( and another of TRI’s larger manufacturers) was about to pull out of Nevada altogether because they couldn’t afford NV Energy ‘s energy rates which are second to California’s in (high) price. NV Energy basically has a lock on energy service and so can charge what they want with State PUC approval of course.
Then Switch and other large energy customers lobbied and won the right to sever ties with NV Energy in order to pursue their own alternative energy strategies which ostensibly would be cheaper and within their control. Competition is good , so if this means that there will be more and better energy supply choices for all customers in Storey and surrounding counties then great! Thru this change in county code it looks as if Storey County is positioning itself to make it easy for energy alternatives to be built here and it makes TRI even more attractive as a place for businesses to locate. I just hope the advantages of energy competition and lower prices benefits ALL OF US and is not limited to the lucky few TRI businesses.
The other two items on the August 4th agenda originated in December 2014 and have appeared and been pushed out three or four times on subsequent agendas. They are:
“Approve first reading of ordinance 15-264 and application No.2014-020 by the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, LLC to amend the text of Storey County Code Title 17 ( Zoning Ordinance) by adding Chapter 17.39 I-C Industrial Commercial Zone. The intent of the proposed I-C Zone is to provide for certain mixed-use industrial and commercial uses ……..”
“Application No 2014-021 by the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, LLC, and Storey County on behalf of the Nature Conservancy, LLC and the Union Pacific Railroad Company to amend the Storey County Zoning map…….”
The property in these two applications is the property that Storey County gained as part of the Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) with Washoe County in June 2014. This brings the TRI land into Storey County where the taxes and permitting costs are less and the building process is fast tracked. It was nice of the Storey County Commission to do this for TRI. Altho Commissioner Lance Gilman recused himself from the actual vote, as mentioned earlier I believe that things seem to get decided before commission meetings even occur.
These two current applications were filed by TRI and seek to establish a new “zone” as part of the Storey County Zoning. If approved the TRI application would create an “Industrial-Commercial” zoning designation. It looks like it will allow mixed use of Heavy, Light industrial and Commercial with hotels, casinos and warehousing. It’s been pushed out several times “ to be worked on”…which is OK but I don’t understand why it appears on the agenda one week, only to be pushed out the next. How odd.
On another front, I don’t know if you caught the news release below but it looks like the Bonanza and Delta casinos might close. The new owner has been denied a gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. I think there is more to this story…this is Storey County after all.
KOLO Local News
Regulators say a Northern California man who bought two casinos in Virginia City is unfit for a gambling license. The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended Wednesday to deny Vincent Michael Malfitano a license and the ability to be the casinos’ landlord. Lacking both, Malfitano would be forced to close and sell the casinos. The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the recommendation in two weeks.
Delta Saloon has 103 slots and a sports book. Bonanza Saloon has 39 slots. Malfitano, a former dentist owns Cypress Meadows Assisted Living in Antioch, California. The board questioned why Malfitano omitted a prior citation for obstruction of a police officer, lawsuits against him and tax liens. They also disagreed with his handling of an employee’s labor complaint. Malfitano says the omissions weren’t deliberate.
Last but not least the Rail Commission called an emergency meeting for Thursday July 30th to discuss the sale of the Drako facility. I could not attend this meeting. The below from the Nevada Appeal:
The V&T Commission voted on Thursday to sell off its eastern Carson City property on Drako Way that was originally intended as the site for the train’s depot.
According to the purchase agreement with Roy L. Steel, the commission will get $785,000 for the property and the building on it. That’s about $300,000 less than the nearly $1.1 million it paid for the property but it will supply the commission with operating cash for the next several years.
Under the terms of the deal, the buyer will put down $300,000 immediately, then pay monthly principal and interest — at 5 percent — of $3,127.60 for the next five years. At the end of that period, the buyer will owe a balloon payment of $485,000 to finish the purchase. As part of the deal, the commission will be able to store materials currently at the site there for one year. The buyer agreed to accept the property in an “as is” condition.
Drako was originally purchased as a depot, but commissioners quickly discovered that getting railroad track to the building would be expensive and the building itself wasn’t suited for being a depot. The purchase will give the commission more operating funds. At present, its primary source of revenue is the annual Polar Express program.
If I recall correctly, the commission paid about $1.3 million for the facility. NOT a good real estate deal. Someone made money on this and the Commission lost money on it.
The Rail Commission still needs to do the financial audit to satisfy Storey County’s request to know where our money is going. Last time I heard, we were not sending the ¼ cent sales tax money until they do. Hopefully the original Drako purchase was not made with Storey County funds.