Judge takes slaughterhouse case under submission
Attorneys in the appeal of the county’s denial of a meat processing plant at Centerville have until Aug. 27 to submit briefs.
Senior Judge Janet Berry, who heard four hours of arguments on Tuesday, said she wanted to watch the video of the Nov. 13, 2019, meeting where county commissioners denied a request by Sinclair Family Farms to place a small slaughterhouse on the former Storke Dairy.
Berry said she wanted attorneys to focus on the question of whether an e-mail sent by Commissioner Larry Walsh and shared with the Planning Commission was a violation of the Nevada Open Meeting Law.
She also asked them to address the question of whether there was a procedural error by allowing out-of-town experts to testify against the proposal without permitting rebuttal.
Sinclair attorney Carolyn Tanner argued that the testimony considered by commissioners related to much larger meat processing operations, like Tyson Foods.
Under county code, a slaughterhouse is allowed as an auxiliary use on agricultural land with a special use permit. The permit limits the operation to no more than 60 animals a week.
Attorney Charles Burcham, representing the county, argued that the process gives the county significant discretion on whether to approve a permit.
He pointed out that 1,540 homes sit within two miles of the proposed site.
“This is all about location,” he said. “That’s why you have to get a special use permit. It is not permitted by right.”
In the instance of Walsh’s email, he replied to residents who opposed the slaughterhouse on Sept. 6, and the email was sent to the planning and county commission, according to Tanner.
Berry said the first case she had overturned was Del Papa v. the Board of Regents, where an instance of faxing a request to change a meeting was determined to be a serial meeting by the Nevada Supreme Court.
Burcham argued that the hearing wasn’t supposed to review the board’s decision or sit in judgment of the application, but to determine based on the record whether commissioners were justified in their denial.
“I can see why the board really struggled with this, because I can see both sides, as well,” Berry said. “My decision will be out as quickly as possible.”