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Ranchos residents adamant against slots

by Merrie Leininger

The job of filling the old Gorman’s grocery store in the Tillman Center may be a little more difficult if the County Commission listen to the recommendation of the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District board of trustees.

The board voted against supporting a zone change for the Tillman Center Wednesday night. Board members Beverly Page, Bruce Nystrom and Dewey Jay sided with a Page motion not to support a zone change. Al Wagner voted against the motion and Victor Hyden abstained.

Wagner had tried to make a motion stating trustees supported a zone change to tourist commercial, but on the condition a casino is not put into the old grocery store, but was told he cannot make conditions like that and withdrew his motion.

The board skipped over everything before the zone change request on the agenda to get the item taken care of quickly.

A rowdy crowd of about 40 people continued to yell out negative comments while Rob Anderson of RO Anderson Engineering, Inc. gave his presentation to the board, even after several requests from Nystrom to remain quiet until he asked for public comment.

Anderson told the board the Park Cattle Co., which owns the Tillman Center, had lost a lot of money “subsidizing” Gorman’s for the last three years, and even paid for $100,000 in upgrades to the store.

“For the past three years, they have pursued and diligently marketed the property to nine grocery stores. All nine told my clients a grocery store doesn’t work there and wouldn’t even come out to do a site visit,” Anderson said.

He warned the Ranchos residents that a boarded up store would only cause more vacancies in the area.

“It’s an area at risk. The center, in our opinion, needs an anchor,” he said.

Anderson said the company would be willing to amend the zone change request just to the parcel the Gorman’s store sits on and would be willing to conduct community meetings to get input.

If the zone change is approved, the Carson Valley Inn has plans to put in a slots casino with a restaurant and a deli.

However, community members at the meeting made it clear they just don’t want a casino.

Norman Svensrud, who with his wife has been circulating petitions in opposition to the zone change, spoke to the board.

“The point I keep hearing the community residents say is it needs businesses that service the residents. We need things that work in a residential community that will not be a negative factor in raising a family,” he said, to rousing applause from the audience.

Nystrom suggested the applicants proceed with the community meetings.

“What I’d like to see is Mr. Anderson get together with people like (Svensrud) and try to hammer out the needs and the wants of the community,” Nystrom said.

The planning commission will next hear the zone change request on Dec. 14 and its recommendation will be heard by the County Commission Jan. 6.