Lawsuit seeks to overturn slaughterhouse denial
A lawsuit has been filed seeking to overturn Douglas County’s denial of a slaughterhouse in Centerville.
Attorneys for Karin Sinclair filed the case in Douglas County District Court on Dec. 17, 2019.
Slaughterhouses are permitted on agriculturally zoned property with a special use permit.
Sinclair sought a permit to convert the Storke Dairy to a slaughterhouse, which is allowed with a permit in the A-19 zoning.
Planning commissioners voted 4-2 against the permit, and Sinclair appealed to county commissioners.
Around 400 people attended an eight-hour Nov. 13, 2019, meeting at the CVIC Hall in Minden that saw nearly 100 speakers.
The crowd exceeded the hall’s capacity, so chairs and speakers were set up in Minden Park so attendees could listen to the proceedings.
After four hours of testimony, commissioners voted 5-0 to deny the request.
According to court papers, Sinclair had an agreement with the owners of the Storke Dairy to purchase the property contingent on approval of the project.
Reno attorney Carolyn Tanner pointed to property value concerns as something commissioners shouldn’t have considered in their denial of the special use permit.
Under the code, the county is required to consider evidence of material damage, not perceived damage, the suit argues.
Tanner also raised an e-mail County Commissioner Larry Walsh sent to residents and fellow commissioners indicating he was opposed to the slaughterhouse.
They assert the e-mail amounted to a serial meeting by electronic means that occurred outside of the public.
Another issue was Planning Commissioner Dave Akola’s statement that requiring a special use permit means that something is wrong with the project.
Under Douglas County code, special use permits are sought when a use is generally compatible with land uses allowed by right in a zoning district, “but which require review of their location, design and configuration and the imposition of conditions to ensure the appropriateness of the use at a particular location with a given district.”
The last time county commissioners were sued for denying a special use permit for a controversial project was a solar generation plant next to the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District pond off Muller Lane.
In that instance, the judge ruled against Greenstone Renewables, saying county commissioners were within their rights to deny the permit.
In that instance, Greenstone said testimony about the project’s visual impact was not something considered in Nevada law.
In the instance of the slaughterhouse, commissioners shared neighbors concerns about flooding and a septic system that the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection acknowledged they’d never worked with before.
The lawsuit argues that decision was up to the state, since the special use permit sought was contingent on state and federal approval.