Permit for Churchill County brothel appealed |

Permit for Churchill County brothel appealed

Josh Johnson

FALLON – The approval of a special use permit for a proposed brothel near Leeteville Junction has been appealed by residents here, setting the stage for a public hearing before Churchill County Commissioners April 6.

County resident and business owner Leslie Beach is contesting a special use permit issued by the planning commission for the brothel in February. The appeal also includes signatures of four Marshall Drive residents.

Beach cites concerns over the brothel’s visibility from U.S. Highway 50, noise from truckers frequenting the brothel and the project’s character and compatibility with the surrounding area.

The brothel will also discourage business development in the area, including property owned by David Geis of Truckee Meadows Heating and Air, according to the appeal.

“This is a big deal for Mr. Geis and the business environment for Fallon, as we will lose his new business and the future of other businesses that could be located there,” Beach said in the appeal.

Other residents testified against the issuance of the special permit at the February meeting. The planning commission also received five letters opposed to the permit’s approval.

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Beach could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The Churchill County Planning Commission approved the special use permit for the planned 20,000-square-foot brothel by a vote of 6-1, with Commissioner Myles Vangorder dissenting.

The brothel would have 20 bedrooms, four VIP suites and employ 25 to 30 prostitutes.

Reno-area residents David Houston, John Kirsch and Kemp Shiffer are the project’s financial backers. Kirsch in February said they hope to break ground in a year. They have yet to apply for a county brothel license, which requires several conditions including a background check of the applicants and quarterly fees based on the number of rooms.

The prospective brothel owners are aware of the appeal and will address its content before commissioners, said Shiffer, one of the brothel’s financial backers.

“We’re preparing whatever we need to prepare so we can represent ourselves at the hearing, he said.

The brothel’s backers have not spoken with residents about the project since the hearing, he said.

“We’re progressing forward with it under the assumption that the permit will be granted,” Shiffer said.

If the special use permit is repealed, the project will no longer be pursued, he said.

Brothels are still a topic of debate in the community, despite the failure of a ballot measure to repeal the county’s brothel ordinance in November 2004. The vote total was 6,358 to keep the ordinance versus 3,679 to repeal it, or 63.35 percent to 36.65 percent.

The issue was brought to the ballot after The Coalition to End Prostitution in Churchill County gathered 1,337 signatures in 2004. The ordinance, first approved in 1974, allows two brothels to operate in the county.