Letter: Setting it straight
A number of misleading and untrue statements have been made regarding the potential trades and development of the upper Schneider Ranch, not only in the media, but in public hearings.
As a result, it is prudent to respond in writing to set the record straight. The events have unfolded as follows:
Initially, the Schneiders spent over two years in negotiations with the Forest Service. Obviously, these negotiations were unsuccessful.
When in contract to buy the property, we began negotiations with the Forest Service to trade the meadow portion of property. The balance was to be either developed or traded to the BLM in a separate trade. A Reno Gazette-Journal article dated Feb. 12, 2000, specifically stated that the County and Forest Service were working with representatives of the Schneider family to trade the 28 acres for roughly 800 acres of the Schneider Ranch, not the entire parcel.
Another article from that paper reported Forest Service official Gary Schiff as having informed the Douglas County commissioners that the trade could take place in six months. In a June 23, 2000 meeting with Forest Service official Steve Klugge three months after the property purchase, we were told that the trade would not take place in six months, but maybe 18 months, and that the Forest Service would only trade for the entire ranch, unlike their prior public and private representations. These were not the conditions initially presented to us by the Forest Service. Mr. Klugge informed us that if we needed to develop the property because these conditions did not work, then we should do so.
Last summer, little movement was made on a trade. We worked with county officials, but little progress resulted. We utilized consultants, lobbyists and lawyers who made trips to the local, regional and federal offices. The results have not matched the time and expense invested.
After much effort and persistence, we were finally able to obtain a written schedule from the Forest Service outlining the framework for a trade by February 2002 (a two-year trade process, not an 18-month process as Mr. Schiff told The Record-Courier last week). Recently, Forest Service officials have informed us that a primary step has been delayed 60 to 90 days. The lack of progress along the initial and revised timetables have eroded our confidence in this process. We have never been in a binding agreement with the Forest Service, since their own regulations and procedures prohibit a binding agreement at this stage.
We support Dingman Investments, and sincerely believe that the plan submitted to Douglas County is the most sensible and responsible development scenario of the property. This plan promotes open space, without negative impact on our neighbors. However, if the commissioners do not approve of the plans submitted, either Dingman Investments or we will continue to pursue the development of the property based on its current zoning, as we have done since the beginning.
On behalf of Clear Creek Ranch, LLC.