Heavy toll accompanies request
May 24, 2011
Any resident of Gardnerville and Minden who is within a driveway or school bus reach of Buckeye, East Valley, or Toler and Waterloo Lanes better pay attention to what the Douglas County Sewer Improvement District is now in a rush to build.
First, some background. The Douglas County Sewer Improvement District is not part of Douglas County government. It is a private company and gives no money to the county. It has a three-person board of directors: Steve Johnson, president of Edgewood/Park Cattle Co., John Kostner, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe President with financial ties to Edgewood/Park Cattle, and John Fults, whose employment and financial connections are undisclosed.
Directors of the DCSID were once elected. Now they are appointed.
At the recent Planning Commission meeting, the district wanted a thumbs-up recommendation to construct a temporary 20-year materials processing facility to mine sand and gravel and operate cement and asphalt plants. The commissioners unanimously voted against it.
Here’s why. The district refused to answer operational questions and refused to disclose who’s behind this business venture, and refused to state the value of the aggregate material. The district denied their gravel, cement, and asphalt trucks would damage county roads. According to cleverly skewed calculations, the district claimed a very trivial sum needed to be reimbursed to us taxpayers for damage to these roads. The district was silent about the safety risk their 80,000-pound trucks would pose to nearby parks and schools, and dismissed the impact thundering, dusty, gravel-spilling trucks would have on nearby home values. But, you only need to drive along Tillman Road to visualize how their proposal would “contribute” to our community.
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As Mr. Bob Ballou stated in his recent Letter to the Editor: “Hopefully, our county commissioners will see the folly of approving a project that will profit a few while degrading our county roads that will have to be repaired at taxpayer expense.”
Our county commissioners may find themselves, however, between a rock and a hard place if and when they consider Douglas County Sewer Improvement District’s application. Four of those commissioners have records indicating their representation of, and/or financial ties with, Edgewood/Park Cattle, which means they’d need to recuse themselves from hearing this application or, at the very least, disclose their connections.
On the other hand, the district may bypass the Board of Commissioners altogether and go directly to court. You’ll recall a previous development issue allowing Walmart to build south of Gardnerville. Walmart forced its way in thanks to a court settlement where the county agreed to let the developer build anything without public discussion and subject only to a “design review.” When Walmart did come to town, our county had no option but to step aside.
The bottom line is this. Honest businesses and development is good. It advances our people and benefits our county. This kind of development, so far, lacks honesty and responsibility and, for our part, requires public vigilance.