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Be sure to check property restrictions

by Bernie Curtis

Recently, it has been painfully brought to our attention that there are circumstances that occur in the purchasing of property that should be investigated before an offer to purchase is made.

At a recent County Commission meeting, an item was brought forward by a homeowner who had bought a parcel of land and built a wonderful home, only to find out later that the adjoining lot, owned by the Washoe Tribe, was possibly planned to be multiple metal storage units. The homeowner’s understandable objections to the storage unit were voiced in letters to the Board of Commissioners, federal authorities and to the Tribe itself. At the board meeting when this item was discussed, it was determined that the county has no jurisdiction over this project. This was determined in a 1986 U.S. District court decision in Reno by Judge Bruce Thompson, when he decided that tribal lands were not to be controlled by local governments but were under the sole control of the Tribe.

Several years ago, when I was at the sheriff’s department, I received a call from a new Douglas County resident on Foothill Road complaining of the breeding habits and noises being made by the cattle in the field adjacent to her brand new home. She also complained that the cowhands working these cattle talked roughly and abusively to the cows and that they should refrain from talking this way to these animals. I asked her who had allowed that ranch to be built so near to her home. She replied quickly, “Oh, it was here first!” My response to her was, “Exactly.” She finally figured it out, but was distressed as to what seemed to her to be an intolerable situation.

This illustrates the point I am trying to make. Investigate everything there is to know before you make an offer to purchase real estate. Your representative should be counted on to get complete information to you. But, if you need to investigate further, go to the Recorder, Community Development, Assessor, General Improvement District office, Title Company or even adjacent property owners. Find out what is planned for construction next to or near your largest lifetime investment.

Douglas County is full of parcels of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, Washoe Tribe, Forest Service, Department of Reclamation and other entities who might sell or trade this land at any time. Land owned by other entities may be destined for things that you may or may not be able to live with. Bureau of Land Management land, especially, can be traded or transferred to other ownership.

Investigate the zoning of your prospective purchase, and also investigate the zoning of adjacent land. Then investigate what that particular zoning might allow to be built there or what might be operated there. You may be surprised to find that some zoning contains usages that you would not want to happen next door.

It is up to you, and you alone, to get the complete answers to all of your questions. Remember, that this is probably the largest single purchase that you will make in your lifetime. This is your future home we’re talking about! It is better to be sure of what you are buying than to spend a huge amount of money and end up in litigation and disappointment.

Bernie Curtis is a Douglas County commissioner.