Judge rules in favor of Carson City slaughterhouse

The former Storke Dairy in Centerville was under consideration for a slaughterhouse business.

The former Storke Dairy in Centerville was under consideration for a slaughterhouse business.

A ruling in favor of a slaughterhouse in Carson City won't affect a denial of a similar proposal in Douglas County that was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Carson City District Judge James T. Russell found the Board of Supervisors erred when reversing a planning commission decision on a proposed slaughterhouse off Highway 50 more than a year ago.

“The board’s decision to grant the appeals and deny petitioner’s application for a special use permit was arbitrary and capricious, and not based in law or fact,” reads a June 16 order signed by Russell.

In January 2022, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld denial of a similar facility proposed in 2019 by Carson Valley Meats, which is based at the Storke Dairy in Centerville.

The order reverses the Board of Supervisors’ decision, upholds a prior special use permit issued by the Carson City Planning Commission and allows the petitioner to request court costs and attorney’s fees.

A special use permit for the proposed facility was approved by planning commissioners in December 2021. Three appeals of that decision — filed by Doreen Mack, Jennifer Verive and Robert Buttner, and Kathleen Franco Simmons — landed before supervisors the following year. On Feb. 3, 2022, supervisors voted 3-2 to uphold the appeals and reverse the planning commission’s approval. Supervisor Maurice White and Mayor Lori Bagwell voted against the measure.

On March 4, 2022, the company behind the project, Carson Valley Meats, filed a petition for judicial review in First Judicial District Court arguing supervisors’ effective denial of the special use permit was “arbitrary, capricious and characterized by an abuse of discretion,” according to court documents.

Russell agreed with the petitioner. The order says the Board of Supervisors failed to make a finding “on any of the appellant’s standing, and the board heard each appeal.” The order also says the Carson City District Attorney’s Office cautioned supervisors to use “an abuse of discretion review standard” for the appeals.

“Furthermore, assuming for the sake of argument that appellants had standing to appeal to the Board of Supervisors, the board erred in determining the appeals,” the June 16 order reads. “CCMC 18.02.060 (4)(b), as it existed at the time of the decision, did not allow the board to consider new evidence or evidence not presented and available to the planning commission. Therefore, the board’s review process was not de novo. The board considered evidence and argument beyond what was presented to the planning commission, in violation of this provision.”

In a Feb. 2, 2022, memo to supervisors before the slaughterhouse hearing, Senior Deputy District Attorney Todd E. Reese advised supervisors to apply an “abuse of discretion” standard of review and “determine whether the planning commission acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner or whether substantial evidence supports the planning commission’s decision.”

The memo states that city code at the time “provides that new evidence should not be considered by the board, but that if substantial new evidence becomes available that was not available at the time of the planning commission’s decision, the application shall be referred back to the planning commission for further consideration.”

The June 16 order notes city code regarding appeals has since been amended to specifically state the abuse-of-discretion standard to be used for review of appeals. The board failed to meet this standard in 2022, the order says.

“Specifically, the board considered evidence presented by appellants that was not presented to the planning commission, and not required by any applicable statute or code, including that a ‘feasibility study’ of the project be required before approval of a special use permit,” reads the order.

According to a transcript of the Feb. 3, 2022, hearing included in court documents, then-Supervisor Stan Jones voted to uphold the appeals citing “quality of life” concerns. He also mentioned a Nevada Supreme Court case upholding Douglas County’s denial of a similar project by the same company.

Supervisor Stacey Giomi expressed desire for a feasibility study and wished the planning commission had better guidance on deeper studies being warranted. He argued he could not make the same findings the planning commission did relating to the project’s potential detrimental effects on surrounding properties.

Supervisor Lisa Schuette was also worried about detrimental impacts and incompatibility with surrounding areas.

Supervisor White mentioned Reese’s memo and stated the planning commission did not err in its prior approval of the permit.

Bagwell likewise said the planning commission did not err and maintained the board had to review the project under existing code, not on good ideas for future review.

The proposed facility would have been in the general industrial zoning district east of Detroit Road. At the time of the planning commission hearing, an approximately 5,000-square-foot building for processing, storage and retail was proposed along with an approximately 5,600-square-foot indoor corral and holding area, according to Carson City Community Development. Conditions of approval for the project included no more than 60 animals a week being processed — with harvesting limited to one day a week — and no animals in the indoor corral for more than 24 hours. Those limits were allowed to be extended three times a year for local events. Proper permitting from USDA and other agencies was also required.

In the December 2021 decision, planning commissioners added more conditions of approval including no noise greater than 80 decibels at the property line and no odors related to animal processing “shall be realized at the property line.”

“It is unfortunate that procedural mistakes were made during the appeal, and after a year and a half, we are pleased the judicial review process worked the way it should, and those mistakes will be rectified,” Karin Sinclair, founder of Carson Valley Meats, said in a statement to the Appeal.


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