No hearing set in slaughterhouse lawsuit
As of Thursday morning, no hearing has been set in the lawsuit over the county’s denial of a slaughterhouse at Centerville.
Last week attorneys for both sides filed supplemental briefs debating two points a judge sought to clarify.
Senior Judge Janet Berry has not set a new hearing date, and it’s possible she won’t, deciding instead to rule on the record.
Berry wanted clarification on the claim that an email Commissioner Larry Walsh sent to residents, and accidentally to every member of the planning and county commission violated the open meeting law.
She also wanted to know if there was any law that prevented commissioners from hearing outside expert testimony during their Nov. 13, 2019, meeting where they denied a request by Sinclair Family Farms to place a small slaughterhouse on the former Storke Dairy.
The county’s attorney argued that the email Walsh sent wasn’t responded to by anyone who received it and therefore couldn’t be a violation of the open meeting law.
However Sinclair attorney Carolyn Tanner argued that because the email was sent to every member of both boards, and that meant a quorum of both boards saw it, it could be a violation of the open meeting law.
Attorney Charles Burcham, representing the county, said refusing to hear testimony from the neighbors’ expert would constitute an open meeting violation.
“The Douglas County Board of County Commissioners was exceedingly generous in allowing all parties to participate,” Burcham said.
Berry said she wanted to watch the video of the meeting before rendering her decision, which would be forthcoming soon after attorneys filed their briefs.
Karin Sinclair went before the Douglas County Planning Commission in September 2019 seeking a permit and two variances.
After a significant debate, planning commissioners split 3-3. Because the seventh member didn’t attend one of the aye votes changed to a denial in order to allow Sinclair to appeal to county commissioners.
Commissioners voted 5-0 against the permit after a four-hour hearing where an estimated 400 people turned out, more than could safely occupy the building. Overflow was set up in Minden Park where residents could listen to the action.
The decision prompted Sinclair to sue in December 2019, calling the decision arbitrary and capricious.
Should Berry rule against the county, she could order commissioners to hold a new hearing. Berry’s decision would be subject to review by the Nevada Supreme Court.