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Supreme Court says state can intervene

by Sheila Gardner

The Nevada Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court injunction which stopped Douglas County from relinquishing its claim to the historic Dangberg Home ranch for $50,000.

In a 6-1 decision filed Monday, the Supreme Court denied a petition from the current owners of the historic Carson Valley ranch, ruling that the District Court did not exceed its jurisdiction in granting the Glide Estate and the State of Nevada permission to intervene.

Attorneys for Dangberg Holdings Nevada LLC principals Don Bently and Bruce Park argued before the Supreme Court in February that the settlement offer had been accepted by Douglas County.

“Our review of the record has failed to produce evidence indicating that a settlement was ever finalized prior to the Glide Estate’s and State of Nevada’s intervention,” the Supreme Court said.

“By counsel’s own admission, Douglas County and Dangberg Holdings ceased work on the settlement agreement on order of the district court after the Glide Estate filed its motion to intervene on April 9, 1997,” the ruling said.

The court also said that the State of Nevada had sufficient interest in the matter to warrant intervention because the purported settlement agreement between Douglas County and Dangberg Holdings affected property rights that had been granted to either the state or Douglas County in a 1977 sale agreement and 1978 lease agreement.

The Dangberg family envisioned that 10 acres of the 9,900-acre ranch in the heart of the Carson Valley be given to the county or state for a park following the death of the last of the granddaughters of pioneer H.F. Dangberg, Sr.

Katrina Glide died in 1995, the ranch was sold, and the new owners claimed they were under no obligation to honor the family’s request. In March 1997, Douglas County commissioners said they were not interested in the site because the county couldn’t afford to operate an historic park.

The county was in the midst of negotiating a $50,000 settlement with the new owners when the state and Glide estate successfully petitioned to stop the proceedings.

The owners of the ranch petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing it was too late for intervention because a deal had been struck with the county.

n Pleased with decision. State parks administrator Wayne Perock said Tuesday he was pleased with the justices’ decision.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Perock said. “We still have hurdles to go, but we will be able to plead our case.”

Perock said Tuesday he is still hopeful a park will be built on the site even though the county wants to pass on the offer.

“If we (the state) get the park, we’ll accept it,” Perock said. “It’s like what comes first, the chicken or the egg. The first thing is to get this significant cultural resource in hand. I think it’s shortsightedness to say we can’t afford it, so we won’t accept it. Even if we have to bring it in and keep it closed until we get all our ducks in order, the resources will be secured and protected.”

A previous Board of County Commissioners allocated $1.7 million for operation of the park. That money is sitting in country reserves, and was collected from room tax revenues which no longer are available.

Perock said in the state has acquired historic properties and kept them closed until there were enough resources to bring the site into operation.

“There is no magic wand,” he said. “We hope the citizens in the community realize what a great resource this is to the beginning of agriculture in Carson Valley. What happened there is not only important to Douglas County, but to the rest of Nevada.”

Dissenting opinion. Justice William Maupin filed the dissent in the Supreme Court decision, citing a letter from the state after Glide’s death in 1995 indicating the state didn’t intend to pursue the Dangberg ranch as a state park, but felt the site was worth preserving and would support the county.

“Intervention by the state should have been refused because the October 1995 letter from the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, in my view, constituted an unequivocal renunciation of any interest in acceptance of the Dangberg property as a state park.

“As a matter of law, the letter had the net effect of waiving any right to oppose any attempt by the county to negotiate a unilateral settlement,” Maupin said.

Maupin also said once the state renounced its interest, Douglas County was free to make any arrangement with Dangberg Holdings including outright refusal of the property.

The case has been turned over to Washoe District Judge James Hardesty with the retirement of Senior Judge Carl Christensen.

Hardesty set a July 23 hearing at 9 a.m. in Douglas County District Court to hear oral arguments on a motion for a summary judgment on who has the right to the property.