BLM auction of Douglas County land on hold |

BLM auction of Douglas County land on hold

Regina Purcell and Susie Vasquez, Tribune News Service

The Bureau of Land Management has decided to auction 146 acres of land, much of it ripe for commercial development, in North Douglas County. Carson City officials said Tuesday they have reserved the option to appeal that decision.

“We want to postpone the auction from Dec. 10 to a date further out, so we can address concerns for both counties and define the impacts,” said Carson City Supervisor Robin Williamson.

The land is between Jacks Valley and Carson City on the east side of Highway 395. The Bureau of Land Management was to auction the land Dec. 10, the opening bid set at $6.5 million.

Williamson said a recent analysis defined the impacts on Carson City. The report said Carson City stands to lose $3.8 million in sales tax revenues from new businesses, as well as those that would migrate from Carson City to the Douglas County location.

The Hobbs, Ong Group was commissioned to look at the proposed sale.

“Both Douglas and Carson City have more in common than differences, but sales tax is a big factor,” Williamson said. “A portion of the tax revenue we generate goes to Douglas County.”

Nevada’s tax structure spreads out the tax wealth, doling out money from revenue-rich urban counties to tax-poor rural counties. Carson City exports revenues, while Douglas County imports them.

Under this system, Douglas County would receive an additional $800,000 in sales tax revenues from the sale of this land.

Williamson said Douglas County’s master plan for the north valley project does not include low-income housing, further strapping Carson City, which would have to provide housing for those retail workers.

If the auction proceeds, the money from the sale of that land will be used to acquire and preserve about 4,000 acres of agricultural land in Douglas County through the purchase of development rights, Carson City Manager John Berkich said.

It’s an action Berkich applauds, but he said it can’t be done at Carson City’s expense.

“The master plan (for North Douglas County) contemplates the development of hundreds of homes, but doesn’t address how services will be provided,” he said. “We believe Carson City might have to meet those demands.”

Williamson agreed, saying the influx of commercial business could result in a bigger demand for services in Carson City without the concurrent rise in sales taxes, which make up 43 percent of Carson City’s budget.

The public auction of federal land to private ownership may be stalled unless negotiations are fruitful before the scheduled Dec. 10 sale, according to Mark Struble, public information officer for the bureau.

Carson City filed its notice of appeal and petition for stay Monday with the bureau.

It says the sale of that land is based on numerous discrepancies: failure to prepare an environmental impact study, failure to assess the economic, fiscal, air quality, traffic, housing, public service, solid waste disposal and infrastructure impacts to the city, failure to consider open space benefits, and failure to consider cumulative impacts in association with other developments in the North Douglas County and south Carson City areas.

The appeal is based on the environmental assessment for the land sale made earlier this year. At that time, Carson City’s request for an indefinite extension in order to comment beyond the May 21, 2001 deadline was denied by the BLM.

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