Commissioners change zoning of land eyed for new rail park

The Churchill County Commissioners approved at their first meeting of the month an application to change the parcel of land in the A10 district owned by the Truckee Carson Irrigation District (TCID) to Industrial zoning.

Planning director Michael Johnson spoke during the public hearing about the potential of this land usage towards the development of a rail park previously discussed between the planning department and the commissioners.

The parcel is designated as an A10 Zoning plan, signifying the presence of agriculture in its 10 acres, though Johnson said he doesn’t think there has ever been agriculture on the land.

County Manager Eleanor Lockwood said Johnson’s department did a good job making the findings a fact and making an unanimous submission for approval. Lockwood also said this was in light of the commissioners passing the 2015 Master Plan in their previous meeting that specifies the goal of pushing urban and industrial development away from NAS Fallon and towards the west side of Fallon, where this parcel East of Hazen is located.

Commission chairman Pete Olsen was also vocal in supporting the approval, and said that he hopes there is some grant funding since he believes the rail park would bring significantly profitable development to the community.

Another significant item on the agenda following the zone change hearing was the update on public land issues including Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), geothermal, Secure Rural Schools (SRS), public land transfer, the wild horse/burro, sage grouse and the approval of payment for the annual membership dues.

Ken Brown, executive Director of the Western Counties Alliance, spoke at the hearing on each of these issues, first explaining that U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon had submitted Bill S-2164 to extend PILT funding 4-5 years.

Brown said he and his board have been looking for PILT to be put on a full funding permanent basis so that counties can understand what they can receive, but the extension was still welcomed.

Brown then spoke on the Wild horse/burrow program, and said that excess numbers have become a big problem in some areas much greater than the land can sustain, causing a great deal of resource damage in cooperating communities.

Commissioner Carl Erquiaga expressed similar concerns on the overpopulation.

“The state doesn’t take care of the horses it has now,” Erquiaga said. “If we take in another 30,000, what are we going to do?”

Still, Erquiaga said that the commissioners appreciate the work that the WCA does for them.

At the end of the hearing, however, Lockwood suggested that a motion to approve payment should be tabled so that she and her people could look into potential funding before the commissioners make a decision to support WCA in this regard or not.

Olsen and Erquiaga agreed, and the motion to table was passed unanimously.

Other significant items from the agenda included the following:

Approved a map inventory of roads in Churchill County that may qualify for an RS-2477 assertion and discussion on completion of the project.

Approved a resolution accepting the “Stepping Up Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental illness in Jails” presented by Social Services Director Shannon Ernst and Lyon County Manager Jeff Page. This was the first resolution of 2016.

Approved a lease agreement to provide office space for Lyon County Deferential Response Partnership.


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