COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
ITEM 19: BALLARDINI RANCH; EVANS CREEK, LLC
JULY 27, 2004
1001 East Ninth Street
WASHOE COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS:
JIM SHAW, Chairman
JIM GALLOWAY, Commissioner
DAVID HUMKE, Commissioner
PETE SFERRAZZA, Commissioner
BONNIE WEBER, Commissioner
KATY SINGLAUB, County Manager
MADELYN SHIPMAN, Deputy District Attorney
KAREN MULLEN, Staff Representative
RENO, NEVADA; TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2004; 4:11 P.M.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: We will reconvene now as the
Board of County Commissioners. We will go on to Item No.
MS. SINGLAUB: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MS. SINGLAUB: Item 19 is a recommendation to
review three options to purchase all or a part of the
1,019-acre Evans Creek, LLC property known as Ballardini
Ranch and authorize the staff to proceed with
negotiations on the Board-selected alternative; authorize
the Chairman to execute a resolution for condemnation in
the event a negotiated acquisition is unsuccessful over
the next 30 days; and authorize the County Manager and/or
the Chairman as may be applicable to execute necessary
documents to complete the negotiated acquisition or, if
necessary, to complete the condemnation; and direct staff
to continue to coordinate on all possible funding
sources, including with the Forest Service, on possible
Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act funds and
provide necessary support letters, applications, and
management agreements where necessary.
Karen Mullen is here on behalf of staff. I
do believe that we will have a brief staff presentation,
and then you have some comments from, I believe, the
owners and others who wish to speak.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes. For the sake of the
audience -- and I appreciate your patience -- we're not
that far behind schedule as according to our standards
here at the County Commission meetings.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: But we have to sit and listen
to all of it, and there's a lot to be heard after this
item is completed. So hopefully everyone will be patient
and respectful of what's being said.
As indicated by the County Manager, I want to
give staff an opportunity to speak briefly about the
options available to us. Then I'd like to give the
owners, the folks from Evans Creek, an opportunity to
express their point of view. Then I would like Mr. Steve
Walther to come up, since he represents Save Our Washoe,
to say a few words.
And then at that particular time, all these
cards that were just handed to me by the County Clerk are
your requests either to have your comments read, get up
to speak, things of that sort. And at that time we will
entertain your comments on this issue.
Again, we do have some rules in reference to
decorum here at the County Commission. What they do in
Reno, what they do in Sparks, sometimes we don't do here
at the County Commission.
Please, if you hear something -- we know how
you feel already. We got all your e-mails. We got your
phone calls. We know how you feel.
So when somebody says something, it takes a
lot of time when you clap and things of that sort. So if
you could refrain from doing that, we would appreciate it
At the same token, when the owners come up
and they say something that you may disagree with, show
them some respect. If you see us clap and boo and hiss,
then by all means, follow our example. But you won't see
So with that being said, we'll start with
staff, go to the owners, go to Mr. Walther, and then go
to you folks. Karen.
MS. Mullen: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For
the record, Karen Mullen, Director of Washoe County
The Evans Creek, LLC property comprises
approximately 1,019 acres and was acquired by Evans
Creek, LLC, a Minnesota company, for approximately eight
and a half million in 1998 according to the public
The northern approximate 419 acres -- and you
can see a faint line running through the property just
above the 1,119 (sic) -- is located in the Truckee
Meadows service area. It is also in the City of Reno
sphere of influence.
The remaining approximate 600 acres of
property to the south is not in the Truckee Meadows
service area or the Reno sphere of influence, therefore
is limited in its development potential.
Washoe County voters approved $4 million for
the acquisition of the Ballardini Ranch as part of the
WC-1 bond issue in 2000. County staff applied for
15 million in Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act
funds to assist in acquiring the property. And in
November '02 County's staff was informed that the
County's application was approved and that money for the
acquisition would be appropriated to the BLM for the U.S.
Forest Service land acquisition process.
Subsequently, Evans Creek notified the
secretary of the interior that they were no longer
interested in selling the property, and the Southern
Nevada Public Lands Management approval and appropriation
request was withdrawn.
On August 12th, 2003, the Board of County
Commissioners directed staff to pursue an appraisal and
bring back other alternatives for acquisition of the
property. Since that time, community members and staff
have been working diligently to pull together sufficient
information and funding to move forward. And two months
ago the staff was notified of a community member,
currently unidentified, who is willing to lend
$20 million to bridge the financing for the County in the
The following acquisition options have been
appraised by Lee B. Smith & Associates at the request of
the District Attorney, and the values of acreages that I
will list are rounded for ease of discussion. The maps
of each of these options are as follows:
Option one is the acquisition of the entire
Ballardini Ranch, 1,019 acres, for $19-plus million.
Option two is the acquisition of only the
southern portion or the 600 acres. And you see a
remainder portion on the top which would remain in the
Reno sphere of influence. The value for that was at four
and a half, plus or minus, million dollars,
Option three, acquisition of the southern
600-plus and adjacent approximate 200 acres, for a total
of 800 acres, was appraised for 10.8 million
These are the options that the staff is
providing the Board to pursue some direction as to
negotiations for acquisition.
If the Board were to select option two,
sufficient cash would be available for full funding via
the 2000 bond issue, either a negotiated purchase price
or for deposit and a condemnation proceeding.
The 2000 bond issue allocation of $4 million
for this purchase plus interest earnings would be
sufficient to finance this particular option, and that is
option number two, the 600 acres.
If the Board were to select either option one
or three, the County would be required to borrow money,
whether from a private source or lending institution.
The difference between the voter-approved
funds and the appraised negotiated or jury-found value
would have to be then balanced through borrowing. Any
borrowing of money requires approval through the
Department of Taxation.
There's some more issues there within your
Board report. We would -- such as approval -- any
approval would require identification of sources of money
intended or dedicated to repay the loan to the Department
of Taxation. And currently, only the general
fund-supported debt would be acceptable to the Department
The debt, again, is the obligation of the
County payable from the general and in absence of any
sufficient federal or alternative sources of funds.
The amount to finance option one or three is
located in your staff report. Annual debt payment for
option one, which is the whole ranch, would be
approximately $2 million a year over a ten-year period.
And option three would require $880,000 over a ten-year
Again, to issue debt, whether public or
private, the process takes approximately 90 days. The
Board may consider any negotiated price that is in the
overall best interest of the taxpayers.
And the County Manager may have more to add
concerning the financing options, and I know that the
District Attorney can answer any of the legal issues as
part of this.
These are the options that we have presented
within your packet, and if you have any questions, I'd be
glad to answer them.
I know that Gary Schiff is on a tight time
schedule, and he would like to say something rather
quickly from the Forest Service's perspective on this
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Go ahead, Mr. Schiff, please.
MR. SCHIFF: Thank you. Thank you,
The Forest Service has, for some time, at all
levels of the organization, expressed interest because of
constituent interest in the higher elevations, southern
piece of the property, and in an access and corridor to
the national forest.
If we were to receive the rest of the
Ballardini, we would develop a management agreement.
Karen and I have already discussed and drafted thoughts
on what that management agreement might look like, which
would include trails, an education center, et cetera.
But again, the decision is -- on whether to
be a willing agency or not rests with the secretary of
agriculture and interior, and I would just leave it at
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: I have a few
questions for staff. This would be parks and legal here.
Thank you, Mr. Schiff.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MR. GALLOWAY: The options outlined to us are
based on an appraised value and on an appraisal having
been done by a professional.
Having noted that, however, as you will note
from the newspaper this morning, there is dispute on that
and the value of the property.
And so what I want to be concerned about is
that any action we take, if it's based on an appraisal,
should it be found that, in the course of going through
an eminent domain action, that the seller or the property
owner is entitled to somewhat more than that, is our -- I
want to be clear, we would have to make it clear that our
direction wasn't pegged to not one penny more than a
But on the other hand, were it to be found,
however unlikely some people think it would be, that it
would be a substantially greater amount than the
appraised value, what would happen then?
MS. MULLEN: I think I'm going to let our
District Attorney's office handle that matter.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: I think our public
has a right to know that.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Maddie.
MS. SHIPMAN: Either you would find a way to
come up with difference in value as determined by the
jury. And I'm assuming here there's no appeal. If there
were an appeal, then that number would change.
But you would have to deposit within 30 days
of any judgment being rendered by a jury, assuming it was
going through the legal process as opposed to a
negotiated acquisition, within 30 days, the
You do have the right to abandon a
condemnation also, but that does carry with it the -- I'm
going to call it the penalty, but the penalty of paying
for attorneys' fees and costs associated with the
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Beyond that, is there
any other penalty if we had to abandon a condemnation?
MS. SHIPMAN: No, but I can tell you that
often, in that case, there can be a significant penalty.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: The attorney fees.
Okay. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Commissioner Sferrazza.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: I'd asked that same
question of Mr. Walther, and I got a different answer, so
I'd like that clarified.
You're saying that we have to pay attorneys'
fees? I was told --
MS. SHIPMAN: If there were an abandonment of
a condemnation proceeding -- and this is, again, assuming
that second step of condemnation has to be undertaken,
and presumably it would be after there was a jury award
that was of such a significant departure from what you
had assumed your pay-out would be that you determined you
can't make those payments.
So first of all, you'd have to determine
whether you can pay the amount that the jury awards. But
secondly -- and I will say that state law does allow for
attorneys' fees and costs to be paid in the event of an
abandonment, which you have the right to do within that
30 days following the judgment.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: My other question
is, I have not seen this appraisal we're talking about.
I have relied on good faith that we have an appraisal
that says roughly 20 million.
Do we have a current appraisal which would be
sufficient for condemnation?
MS. SHIPMAN: The short answer is yes. The
appraisal was taken or undertaken through your District
Attorney's office in the assumption that there may be
future litigation. And it's not a public document
because it's work product, and it will be updated. It
is -- those numbers are good through January of this year
according to our appraiser.
And as you know, we rounded them, we said
plus, I believe it was 19.6 something. It's 19 plus, so
it's somewhere between 19 and 20 million. And the
appraised value for the option one and the others are
pretty much rounded where they are in the appraisal
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: How current does the
appraisal have to be to file a right of --
MS. SHIPMAN: We would be using our current
appraisal for purposes of negotiation. And then prior to
actually filing any condemnation action, if in fact
that's where you end up going, it would be updated to the
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: So if we vote today,
we don't know what price we're voting on? I'm a little
MS. SHIPMAN: Well, you don't know the price
between January and July or August or the 30 days of your
action today, the end of August, beginning of September.
And so there would be obviously some increase probably
given the market values between January and today. But
you're looking at that differential, and that's why we
use the rounded figure.
I think that with three attorneys or two
attorneys sitting on this Commission, you are aware that
condemnation proceedings often end up with a value in
excess of what the actual government appraised value is
because you're working within a jury system.
So there has to be some flexibility in the
dollar amounts and they're not in stone. I can't tell
you they're in stone, but I can tell you that they were
numbers that we're providing you, were numbers provided
by a licensed appraiser in this state who will be an
expert in any trial if in fact a trial occurs.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Karen, have we ever received
an appraisal amount from the property owners as to what
their folks think this is worth?
MS. MULLEN: No, I've never received an
appraisal amount, and I don't believe Maddie has either.
MS. SHIPMAN: I haven't.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Other questions for
staff? Commissioner Humke.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I
pass along some questions that were sent in by a citizen.
And this is to clarify, but the citizen asks if either in
the voluntary sale that we're pursuing or the
condemnation, would we be seeking to acquire any water
rights attached to the subject property?
MS. MULLEN: I can answer that it is included
in the value of the appraisal, the water rights that are
with the property.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Citizen was interested
in the number of acre feet and potential value. Counsel
says that the appraisal is attorney work product, and I
think she means that she's not going to disclose basic
terms of it, but can you give any round numbers?
MS. MULLEN: I don't have them offhand. I
don't know if Maddie does or not.
MS. SHIPMAN: I don't either, but what I am
going to assume in answer to that question is that the
water rights -- and maybe you can ask the owner the
question what water rights they have that are appurtenant
to the property. We're not seeking anything not
appurtenant to the property. I believe what they have
are creek rights in Evans Creek. They're not other water
rights, they're not groundwater rights, but they're creek
rights for Evans Creek.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Thank you.
Mr. Chair, I don't know if this is the
appropriate time or the right stage, but can we ask
questions about the terms of the loan from the lender?
MS. SINGLAUB: Mr. Chairman, I can clarify a
bit of that. We don't -- as we've described in the staff
report, whether we borrow from the proposed lender that
Mr. Walther identified or whether we borrow from a bank
or lending institution, we don't have terms and
agreements specified yet.
So we estimated our debt service based on the
typical terms that we would today get from a bank if we
were to borrow from a bank.
And we have a verbal representation from
Mr. Walther that a lender would offer us that similar
deal, but we have not made an agreement. This is what we
could walk down to the bank and get today.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Thank you.
You know, I think most everybody in the room,
save and except for the Evans Creek folks, probably favor
option one or acquiring this, but some of the e-mails
show that some people, taxpayers and voters in this
county, don't exactly favor this, and they want us to
make sure we know what we're getting into before we
engage in this awesome power of condemning some private
property. So that's why I ask these questions.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. Other questions
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Just a brief
follow-up to Commissioner Humke's question because it was
a very good question. The ability to borrow money is
there in the event that we wish to pursue an option that
requires it, and I was told that in caucus. Am I stating
MS. SINGLAUB: That is correct. I do want to
put on the public record for the Board and the citizens
that if we are not able to secure alternative sources --
and those may be federal sources, they may be sales tax
for open space sources -- if we are not able to secure
other sources, as Karen pointed out, the fallback that
the Department of Taxation requires us to prove is that
we would fund this from our general fund. And that would
require a significant budget management to fund $2-plus
million per year from the general fund. We anticipate
having other sources of funding.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: So it would be a GO
back loan, general obligation type loan.
MS. SINGLAUB: Right.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: And then to clarify
what Gary Schiff was saying with regard to the Forest
Service possibly ending up acquiring some of this
property, that is just one option, as I understand it, by
which we could reduce that debt at some future time if
some of this property were later then sold by Washoe
County as a willing seller to the Forest Service in order
to obtain funds with which to reduce that total debt.
MS. SINGLAUB: That's a scenario that has, as
Gary said, not been fully evaluated or approved at the
federal level. So we will explore a variety of federal
funding sources. And if we are the owners, we would be a
seller of that property.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: And I just want to --
I feel an obligation for the public to know that I am
aware that at least this is an exit strategy in which it
is allowed that Washoe County could be a willing seller
in the event that we found that this was the way to go
and that we didn't want to carry that debt for 20 years
MS. SINGLAUB: Again, I don't want the
Commissioners to understand from that that that is an
automatic. If we were a willing seller, then we could
initiate a process, but there is no guarantee.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Yes. Although there
are hundreds of millions of dollars -- I just want to say
I'm taking this into account.
There are hundreds of millions of federal
dollars available to make such purchases, and I am
weighing that in the balance, knowing that it's not a
guarantee. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Let's move on.
Thank you. Thank you, Gary.
Evans Creek, LLC. I'm not sure who's going
MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman and Members of
the Commission, my name is Frank Thompson of Irwin &
Thompson, One East Liberty Street, Reno, Nevada.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Mr. Thompson, let me
interrupt just for a minute. I need to know how long you
need for your presentation.
MR. THOMPSON: Four minutes.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. For everybody or just
MR. THOMPSON: No, for me. And then
Mr. Nelson will also address you and Mr. Irwin also. My
presentation is four minutes approximately.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: So if I gave you ten,
15 minutes for Evans Creek, is that enough time for you
to make your presentation? Because these people want to
say their say-so as well, and --
MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, that will be
sufficient for Evans Creek.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. I will watch the
clock. Thank you.
MR. THOMPSON: Thank you.
Washoe County proposes to purchase the
Ballardini Ranch or to seize it through condemnation
proceedings for open space for passive recreational use.
But the County faces a substantial obstacle. It cannot
afford to pay fair market value for the property based on
the highest and best use which is residential
development. The County, therefore, proposes to ask
Evans Creek to sell the property for a price that
represents a small fraction of its fair market value.
The recent staff report references an
appraisal that places an approximate value on the
Ballardini Ranch of $20 million. That alleged value is
so low that it evidences to us a disturbing disregard for
the reality of real estate values in the same area.
Evans Creek views the alleged value of
$20 million in the same way that a homeowner would view
the situation if the County proposed to purchase or
condemn the homeowner's home worth $200,000 for an amount
less than $20,000.
Because the proposal is so outrageously low,
there is no common ground for discussion. The Ballardini
Ranch comprises 1,019 acres. According to our research,
an acre of comparable land in the same area currently
sells in a range of 125 to over 600 thousand dollars per
Simply stated, the County's proposal to buy
the Ballardini Ranch for the sum of $20,000 per acre is
hopelessly unrealistic. The County's proposal to
purchase a portion, the southern 600 acres, of the
Ballardini Ranch for $7,500 per acre is simply shocking.
Evans Creek should not be asked, nor should
any real property owner be asked nor expected to sell its
property, or any portion of it, for a fraction of its
fair market value based on its highest and best use. The
County Manager has admitted this fact to Evans Creek in
writing on April 25th, 2002, when she wrote the following
to Tim Nelson of Evans Creek. And I quote:
"The County is well aware and it has been
understood all along that the owners of the
Ballardini Ranch won't consider selling the
property for anything less than the fair
market value, to include the appraisal
concept of highest and best use." Close
That is as clearly as it can be stated. And
on that point we agreed with the observation made by the
County Manager more than two years ago.
As for the County's proposal to seize the
property, both federal and state law forbid the taking of
private property, number one, without payment of just
compensation, and number two, unless there is a need for
public use. Nevada law does not authorize the seizure of
private property for open space for passive recreational
The County's proposed action in this regard
is unprecedented and without legal authority. Legally,
it is not possible for the County to crawl any farther
out on the limb.
Furthermore, there is no need to impose a tax
burden of tens of millions of dollars on county taxpayers
when, in fact, Evans Creek has agreed to provide trail
access to county open space abutting the national forest
at no cost to the taxpayers upon approval of its final
parcel map for the Toiyabe Ranch Estates subdivision.
As for a wildlife habitat, Evans Creek has
established CC&Rs which will minimize the impact of
development of the property on wildlife.
Should the County proceed with a condemnation
action and establish a public need, which is highly
unlikely, the taxpayers will receive a tax bill not of
$20 million, but rather a tax bill of hundreds of
millions of dollars.
This is a hefty tax burden for elected public
officials to place on county taxpayers when, number one,
the County cannot establish a public need in the first
place, and number two, when Evans Creek has already
agreed to provide public access to county open space
abutting national forest upon approval of its final
Mr. Nelson of Evans Creek is here to address
questions you may have about the development of the
property and also negotiations for sale of the property.
That concludes my remarks, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mr. Thompson.
MR. NELSON: Good evening, Mr. Chair, staff,
and Members of the Commission and members of the
First, with respect to your question about
water rights, we have 609 acre feet of surface water
rights, which alone are worth something in excess of
$2 million for the property.
I think it would be of interest to the
Commissioners and to the public in looking at this issue
overall to examine the recent settlement of the Lompa
condemnation case, the ranch property in Carson City,
where 82 acres was ultimately acquired by settlement
after a two-year litigation of an eminent domain by the
Nevada Highway Department for a sum of $12 million for
82 acres where the government's initial appraisal was
$1.6 million, the property owner's appraisal was
I'm here to present a proposal that would
save the taxpayers, save the County, save the owner the
time, the expense and the aggravation of a protracted and
difficult condemnation proceeding.
Evans Creek, LLC will sell the Ballardini
Ranch to Washoe County for its present fair market value
on the following terms:
The price will be established by an appraisal
completed by three independent appraisers, preferably
from outside of Nevada, all of whom have absolutely no
affiliation, business, contract, family, social or
political, with any employees, officers, representatives,
officials, interest holders or owners of Evans Creek,
LLC, the property owner, Washoe County, the City of Reno,
the City of Sparks, the Bureau of Land Management, the
United States Forest Service, Nevada's elected federal
officials, any group or person who has opposed or
supported our development of the Ballardini Ranch or who
has opposed or supported Washoe County's suggested
acquisition of all or any part of the Ballardini Ranch or
who owns any interest, direct or indirect, in any real
property or business in the Truckee Meadows or who has
any affiliation or any attorney who represents or who has
represented any of the foregoing.
Simply stated, the goal is to have an
appraisal which is absolutely free of bias and/or prior
knowledge of the property.
The appraisers would be selected from a panel
of 16 -- 15 appraisers selected by the executive director
of a nationally recognized professional real estate --
real property appraisers association.
Each party, the property owner and the
County, will rank the panel members, and the three
appraisers with the highest weighted average ranking will
The appraisal shall be for the highest and
best use of the Ballardini Ranch. Evans Creek and Washoe
County each will pay one-half of the appraisal fees in
On signing of the agreement, which shall be
signed on or before August 10th, 2004, Washoe County
shall deposit in escrow a nonrefundable earnest money
deposit of $4 million representing the funds it claims it
has on hand to pay for the purchase of the ranch.
The appraisal will be completed within
90 days. When the appraisal is completed, Washoe County
will pay the full appraised fair market value price in
cash within five days.
Evans Creek, LLC will execute a deed of
Ballardini Ranch to Washoe County. Each party will have
all equitable and legal remedies if the other party
breaches its obligations under the agreement.
In summary, this is a proposal that, if the
County is serious about acquiring the property for public
uses at a fair market value, provides that to occur
without the lengthy and expensive action of an eminent
domain matter. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Just one quick question,
Mr. Nelson. Was there any reason why that proposal
wasn't sent to us prior to 4:40 p.m. this day?
MR. NELSON: It was a proposal that has been
in process up until the time of this meeting.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay.
MAN FROM AUDIENCE: Tell us another one.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Please, please.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: I think the thing
that startled a number of people, including myself, was
this pay in five days. Pay in five days from what date?
MR. NELSON: From the point when the
appraisal is completed, which gives you 90 days to go out
and arrange the financing necessary to complete a
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: From a point that an
appraisal is completed, we pay in five days? We would
know 90 days ahead of then what the number is? Is that
what you're saying? How would we know the number until
MR. NELSON: The staff is indicating you have
the ability to borrow for this acquisition. If they're
confident of the fair market value of the property, it
seems like that is the easiest part of your dilemma.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Well, why wouldn't
you, if you say this is a, you know, a businesslike,
workable solution, allow a longer time after the
appraisal is completed and you could put -- you could put
interest on the money or some other thing, but you could
allow a longer time, so that the borrowing could be
arranged when the actual amount is known.
Why not? Why not allow enough time that the
borrowing could be done after the actual amount is known?
MR. NELSON: Well, the borrowing process
could start as soon as you come to an agreement. The
amount of the borrowing is something that can be in flux
while the appraisals are being completed.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: So you're inflexible
on this five-day or not?
MR. NELSON: I believe we can accommodate a
reasonable period of time to close a transaction from the
time that the County knows the value of the property at
the conclusion of the appraisal.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Thank you. Do you
think that you and the County have different
interpretations of what highest and best use means? You
know, given -- I mean, because your highest and best use
examples appear to be highly developed land, and this
property is neither zoned for that development, nor does
it have those improvements on it.
MR. NELSON: Well, the appraisers would,
using accepted appraising standards, would determine the
highest and best use and the value of property.
We think under its current land use
designated, which are acreage properties totaling 184
lots total on the entire property, that it supports a
value substantially in excess of many factors times the
appraised values of the ranch appraisers selected so far
by the County.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Commissioner Sferrazza.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: If I understood you
correctly, you indicated the minimum value was 120,000 an
acre, which would be about $120 million.
MR. NELSON: That's not a correct statement
of how we provided the information. We provided
information on recent lot sale comparables in the area
around the Ballardini Ranch, which include properties
that are half acre, acre, two acres, five acres.
The lowest per-acre price of all those sales
which we detailed in the materials provided to you is in
the range of 120,000 per acre.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: Well, that's, I
thought, that what I said. Which would translate to
$120 million plus because it's 19 extra acres there.
But it's indicating here you bought the
property in 1998 for 8.5 million. That would be a
1,100-percent increase in six years. Even using the
County's figures, it's 135-percent increase.
Did you pay fair market value when you bought
MR. NELSON: There were extenuating
circumstances concerning the purchase price of the
property when we bought it. And the purchase price isn't
pertinent to the ultimate fair market value as determined
by an appraiser. Neither is the percentage of increase
in value related to an ultimate sale price.
The fair market value is determined by
appraising standards which are detailed and accepted by
the appraising organizations, and they would come up with
the ultimate value. We merely wanted to set forth
information that indicates that the appraised value
already obtained by the County is grossly unrealistic.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: I guess my question
then goes to your proposal. If we stick with the state
law, at least we have a local jury. Picking from these
appraisers as to who they believe is fair and balanced
versus going outside the state to three people who have
nothing to do with the State, have no connection with the
State, as you've indicated, how is that fairer than the
state law provides?
MR. NELSON: It's fairer to the property
owner because if you're committed to buying the property,
you should be committed to buying the property whatever
the value is.
If you're serious about the fair market value
and about buying the property, you should come into the
purchase. If you go through the eminent domain
procedure, find out that the fair market value is five
times or more what the County's appraisal is, it's not
really fair to the property owner to be held up for two
years or whatever it takes to get to that point, only for
the County to abandon the process at that point.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Commissioner Humke.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Thank you.
Mr. Nelson, do you have a written copy of
MR. NELSON: I do. For the record this
evening, I'd rather rest on my presentation of it into
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: One last question,
Mr. Nelson, and we'll move on with your presentation from
the other members of your staff.
I get the feeling as I listen to the
discussions that your company or your representatives'
value of this property far exceeds the County's estimate
of the value of the property.
How are we going to determine -- if we can't
determine full fair market value price, highest and best
use price here, how are these three appraisers going to
be able to do that if we proceed to that level where we
get people to go out there and say: What do you think
this is worth?
If Evans Creek and Washoe County can't agree
on that -- to me, it would be the first step. I think
there should be some commonality between what you say and
what we say, like when you go buy a car for instance, and
then you kind of negotiate from there.
MR. NELSON: Well, without --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: But from what I'm hearing is
I'd go higher, but my arm's not that long.
MR. NELSON: Without having access to see the
appraisal the County has prepared -- and, for the record,
we have not been offered a copy of it -- it's difficult
to comment on how your appraiser dealt with fair market
value and highest and best use.
We can only conclude that he wasn't comparing
similarly situated properties in the southwest Truckee
Meadows in coming up with those values.
We're not appraisers. We're don't have an
appraisal. The parties can agree on appraising the
property using fair market value and to recognize the
appraisal concept of highest and best use. That's the
appraiser's job is to do that.
MAI appraisers do this day in and day out.
Three of them who are unbiased and reach a decision
together, we don't think anything could be fairer than
that approach if the County is serious about acquiring it
based on its true fair market value.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay.
MR. NELSON: And that's what we request.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: All right. Very good.
MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, that concludes
our presentation, but we would request the time that we
have left to reserve for rebuttal after public comment.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes, sir.
MR. THOMPSON: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Mr. Walther. How much time do you need?
MR. WALTHER: I would like to ask you to
watch about a 15-slide show of the Ballardini Ranch taken
by Phil DeManczuk who is a long-time resident and
professional photographer who has taken pictures in that
And then there is a letter that I'd like to
have read early on -- doesn't have to be part of my
comments -- from Dr. Paul Tueller who is the most
preeminent, really, wildlife expert in the state of
Nevada. He has prepared a long report two years ago with
respect to the impact of development on the Ballardini
Ranch and has a letter -- it's only a page and a
quarter -- addressing the issue of the options.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. So about ten,
15 minutes then?
MR. WALTHER: If Mr. DeManczuk could do that,
but then I will ask you for ten minutes of time to speak.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay.
MR. WALTHER: Thank you.
MR. DeMANCZUK: Good afternoon, ladies and
gentlemen. Although I usually prefer to speak off the
cuff, I have elected to jot down some notes due to the
time element that we are provided. I would ask that you
listen to my words but that you --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Excuse me. Would you give
your name for the record, please.
MR. DeMANCZUK: I'm about to right now.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Thank you.
MR. DeMANCZUK: My name is Phil DeManczuk,
and I am a professional, internationally published,
award-winning, if you will, wildlife photographer. I'm a
Reno resident of some 23 years, and although I have
traveled all over North America shooting work for some of
the biggest advertising and editorial clients in the
industry, I have produced a great body of my most notable
images from this area, especially the Ballardini Ranch
area. And today I am asking you to help save it.
Interestingly enough, I look up and read the
first of Washoe County's strategic priorities which says:
Preserve natural resources, effectively plan and manage
use of our natural assets, including water, air, and open
Although I hope my images on the screen will
help provide visual evidence of the rich diversity of
wildlife in the Ballardini Ranch area, I am not going to
address the importance of this conservation. You have
been submitted a document by the preeminent wildlife,
biologist, Dr. Paul Tueller, that addresses these
Rather, I would like to speak of quality of
life and economic opportunity issues places such as the
Not wanting to live the life of a starving
artist, I have also worked in the gaming industry for
some 23 years, and I am a businessman. I favor
controlled and responsible growth. But developing the
Ballardini Ranch is neither controlled nor responsible.
I do not want to save every blade of grass,
neither do I want to build on every blade of grass. We
have witnessed the great success of the RSCVA's campaign
for America's adventure destination resort. It is
evidenced by the success of the kayak park, the outdoor
games, the RTO, and the recent Tour de Nez bike race, and
the promotion of our natural resources.
People live and visit Reno for different
reasons than they live and visit New York, Chicago or
Los Angeles. Let's not destroy one of the most appealing
aspects of our community.
One of the best pieces of advertising I think
I've ever seen for our community is a billboard that
exists on 395 heading south to Carson City. And I have
no idea who the copyright or the ad agency is, but it's
very simple. It's a picture of the Sierra. It focuses
on Job's Peak, and there's one tag line that sits
underneath it. And that says: Build this, Las Vegas.
One last item, in addressing prior comments
by Evans Creek regarding the concerns that they have for
wildlife up there. We have not witnessed very many, if
any, negative encounters with wildlife by especially the
houses on the periphery of the ranch up there. And
that's because the Ballardini Ranch offers a buffer zone.
Mountain lions, black bear which exist up
there in great numbers, that any wildlife biologist will
attest to, enjoy this buffer zone. And they're not
coming in and they're not taking our pets and, even
worse, attacking our children because we enjoy this
If you've read the media or paid attention to
the media, there's been a number of fatal attacks by
mountain lions in Los Angeles and Orange County. Why?
Because we continually build, backing up into this
neighborhood, and we initiate this process.
And wildlife, open spaces, mountain biking,
hiking, hunting, fishing, that's all something that we
use to promote the quality of life and economic
development in our area. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, sir. Great
photographs by the way.
MR. DeMANCZUK: Thank you.
MS. MESTRE: Good afternoon. My name is
Gretta Mestre. I'm reading a letter from Paul Tueller,
Ph.D., in reference to these packets for your notes.
"Dear Chairman Shaw and Members of the Washoe
County Commission: In October of 2000 I
prepared a report titled 'The Ballardini
Ranch; The Study of the Impact of the
Development of the Ballardini Ranch on the
Ecology of the Carson Range.' In that report
I made several points which I have summarized
"The ecology of the Ballardini Ranch and that
of the open space provided by the Arrow Creek
development is of paramount importance to the
deer herds in the Carson Range. Populations
of mule deer are dependent upon these winter
ranges for their survival. The
sagebrush/bitterbrush plant communities in
the northern part of the property are very
important as winter range for wintering deer.
Increased fragmentation of the properties
along the western side of Reno will be
detrimental to the deer herd. Therefore, it
is necessary that the entire property be
protected and option one should be adopted.
Options two and three will allow increased
fragmentation detrimental to the mule deer
"This open space is extremely valuable for a
number of other species of mammals, birds,
amphibians, reptiles and insects. The buffer
between the urban development and federal
Forest Service property is significant to
those interested in the out-of-doors and the
desire to see and interact with wild
creatures. There are still vibrant
populations of raccoon, coyote, mountain
lion, black bear, badger, cottontail rabbit,
quail and dove in the Ballardini Ranch and
the surrounding environment. Fragmentation
of these ecosystems will continue to
jeopardize the habitat for these species.
Once again, option number one is preferred,
and options number two and three will only
allow further fragmentation and degradation
of these habitats.
"Streams flowing from the east side of the
Carson Range constitute valuable fisheries,
with much potential for enhancement. These
streams also provide valuable habitat for a
variety of birds, mammals and insects. The
entire ranch would be required to optimize
the habitat potential found in the stream
channels along the east side of the Carson
"Access to the Ballardini Ranch would provide
the public right to view, enjoy, study the
scenic and educational parts of the U.S.
Forest Service and BLM lands by traveling
through Evans Creek, as well as viewing the
wooden flume system -- as well as viewing the
remnants and path of the wooden flume system
which was constructed in the late 1800s to
facilitate the transfer from the mountain
range to the Truckee Meadows by utilization
of water from Lake Tahoe. These natural
historical sites could be enjoyed to a much
greater degree if the Ballardini Ranch was
preserved for access by citizens of the
"I strongly support the acquisition of the
entire Ballardini Ranch property so that
public access to the federal lands above Reno
will be made available so that habitat will
be maintained for the deer herds. Options
two and three will not provide the needed
habitat and buffer for the wintering deer
herd and should not be selected. If option
one is adopted, a new unique area will be
maintained for hiking, horseback riding,
camping, fishing, mountain biking -- of
course unmotorized -- wildlife and plant life
observation, youth educational programs and
other uses, that which would not degrade the
fragile ecosystems found in this proposed
"Sincerely, Paul Tueller, Ph.D., Professor of
Range Ecology Emeritus, University of Nevada
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MR. WALTHER: Thank you. May I ask that that
be made a part of the record, the report and the letter
that goes with it? Yes?
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes. I'm sorry.
MR. WALTHER: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission,
today you're here to discuss and act on one piece of
property, the most historic and pristine area left in
Before I continue, there are three slides
that I'd like to show you. And this is 1400 acres of
property dedicated, without charge, by the Arrow Creek
developer that was envisioned since 1984.
The Arrow Creek, the Redfield property agreed
to a -- not a transfer of density but not an increase in
density -- I emphasize, not an increase in density -- to
accommodate their development in the wonderful way that
they have. And as part of that, agreed to dedicate 1400
acres, which has since been dedicated and committed that
dedication to Washoe County.
This plan was envisioned at the same time it
was envisioned to ultimately hopefully acquire the
Ballardini Ranch to provide 2500 total acres along the
foothills to give access to the people here, to the
This is really the one that's most important,
and it's hard to see the pale kind of greenish blue. But
what you see there and what all of us here know is the
Ballardini Ranch, the 1,019-acre Ballardini Ranch, which,
if acquired, will link to the 1400 acres dedicated,
again, without charge by Arrow Creek to produce this
wonderful opportunity for the citizens.
The ranch is perched in the foothills,
relatively untouched for decades. It provides our
citizens and our visitors with the opportunity to enjoy
the scenic, serene area and to travel through it quietly
into the mountains, which we now tout, belatedly, in this
community as being among our most attractive magnets to
RSCVA, as you know now, has found that one of
the most attractive things we can offer is what we see
around us in the natural setting. It's in the nature of
San Rafael Park, considering it locally, or Central Park.
It's a special area for people to enjoy the rich
population of diverse and growing wildlife.
I would add, I'm a fourth generation Nevadan.
My great grandfather got here in 1861. We've never moved
30 miles from where he first arrived. I've lived at the
end of Lakeside since 1948. Within the last 24 months,
we've had a bear cub in our tree with the mother close
behind; a bobcat or small lion cub tried to get into our
basement to follow squirrels.
We've had evidence of encroaching, a need for
great area in this community for the rich wildlife that
we have. And of course the deer population has suffered
over the years as well due to increased development.
This is a unique place for our children to
see the last vestiges of the old west, much like the
Ponderosa Ranch would have provided, for which we all
feel sad about the loss.
Where else in this area can a person get on a
horse and travel safely into the mountains? There is
none. Where else in this valley can one cross-country
ski or snowshoe into the mountains? There is none. All
this is possible by turning off McCarran and getting into
the Ballardini Ranch.
The old flume trail mentioned by Paul Tueller
to provide lumber to the valley is right above the ranch.
Most people don't even know where it is. It's a
significant historical, very interesting event. You can
go right from the Ballardini Ranch and walk up along it
clear to Hunter Lake.
What makes this area special, extra special,
is that it's a bike ride away from any person who lives
in this valley. It's a place where one can find refuge,
the last remaining refuge for people and wildlife in a
quiet, open, scenic area.
It's not hidden completely because when you
get off the airplane and you look to the mountains, you
see a green sliver, a little emerald sliver sitting there
in the mountains, and that's part of the Ballardini Ranch
just inviting people to hopefully, some day, completely
enjoy without fear of arrest.
No other land in the valley provides this
kind of access as does this. It's been enjoyed by our
populace for years until, unfortunately, very recently.
This is the last chance to save this asset.
What makes this community special is not only
its natural surroundings, but the values that the people
here have to preserve these surroundings.
Our citizens have made it clear they want to
have these values honored, and they're asking, some even
pleading, for you to protect and preserve the Ballardini
Ranch and to take an action that will mirror their
Although our valley has experienced much
diversity of opinion over the years on many issues, this
is not one of them. This is one area where everyone has
closed ranks to ask our public officials to utilize the
foresight necessary to protect this for everyone.
This is the culmination of an effort that
began in 1977 when there was an effort to stop the A
Line. The A Line was a proposed freeway that went from
McCarran Boulevard, then Hash Lane and South Virginia
Street, west of Windy Hill, dragging with it in its wake
the Ballardini Ranch, the Arrow Creek property, and the
Protect Our Washoe, this group that's here
today, filed a lawsuit against the federal government to
stop that in its tracks, and it did. Thousands of people
came to the rescue of the concept of protecting this
A supplemental environmental impact statement
was ordered by the federal government, and following
about 36 months of very strenuous educational hearings,
it was determined that this was not the place for the A
Line. They turned it then into the central part of the
It was then pegged to cost $105 million to do
that as opposed to the $27 million roughly proposed by
the Nevada Department of Transportation to build it
through the area. But a value judgment was made to pay
an extra $75 million for these kind of environmental
We hope that will not be lost as a result of
the efforts on the part of the Evans Creek property to
really develop this or to sell it at a price that's
After that decision was made, the County
Commission formed the Southwest Truckee Meadows Citizens
Advisory Board, chaired by Frank Bender. After 24 months
of effort there, a hearing came before Ron Bath on
February 7th, 1984. It was an immense hearing. Ron Bath
is now a two-star general at the Pentagon and is in
charge of planning the Air Force for the next 25 years.
So he does have some planning skills. He was chairman in
Former Governor List spoke. Cliff Young
spoke from the Nevada Supreme Court. Others spoke who
were leaders asking for the County Commission to protect
that area consistent with a decision of the federal
That recommendation came to stop Plumas in
its tracks, to stop Lakeside in its tracks, to work to
protect the Arrow Creek property and the Ballardini Ranch
property. And that plan was adopted by the Washoe County
Commissioners in November 1984 with over a thousand
people in the Convention Center at that time.
In order for the County Commission to decide
what to do about that, they had to be sure that the S
Alignment, which now was chosen through the central
valley, was going to be on time with federal funding.
They would use eminent domain, of course, too.
And so we all went back to Washington to find
out if we could get that commitment. Mayor Sferrazza was
on that trip. Belie Williams, Frank Bender, Spike
Wilson, John Brodeur, Janice Pine, Department of
Transportation, all flew back on their own expense to ask
Barbara Vucanovich and their representatives to assist in
obtaining that commitment.
We obtained that commitment. And with that
assurance -- again, no guarantees -- the Washoe County
Commission made this decision, even though they didn't
have it in writing, as you're asking today.
They went ahead and approved that plan which
still has integrity today. It has never been changed
except for the effort on the part of Ballardini people.
It was never sought to be changed prior to that time.
We are now in a position to ask for you to
take action. You have -- you have a formal appraisal.
The Arrow Creek property is dedicated. Money has been
made available to acquire the ranch up to $24 million,
and we ask you to take the necessary steps to make it a
fair option or consider and initiate eminent domain.
Briefly on the topic of eminent domain. This
law confers upon you the -- and someone said here --
awesome power to acquire the property of another, but at
a fair price, for public use. You're asked to consider a
resolution that will provide the possibility of invoking
that power today.
It's a legislative, creative device to serve
the public good, yet not to the detriment of the owner
who is to be fairly paid. It provides the public, acting
through persons conferred with the powers such as you, to
set aside the property for public good.
There are some that feel the power should not
be used. It is the duty of the persons who have that
power to use it appropriately, although judiciously, when
the public good is served by its use.
Governments use it every day for streets,
train tracks, house public employees in their place of
business, provide parking areas for public employees, and
to provide businesses next to airports.
Why don't those who are concerned about the
concept of eminent domain complain about those uses? It
all comes down to values. We're talking today about
In weighing those values we must ask, is the
Ballardini Ranch as important to the entire public as a
parking lot for public officials, for example, the one
across the street here? It's our value system that's in
play here tonight. We ask those actions to determine our
A good example of eminent domain was one
involving Ron Bath personally. His mother lived
immediately south of the airport in a trailer with a shed
next to it for many of her years, until she was 92 years
old. She came to all the meetings when we were told
there was a need to take that property, and ultimately
that property was taken.
They made a formal vote to take it, and then
they served the person, they served Mrs. Dora Bath with a
notice of eviction and notice of condemnation. And
within 48 hours she passed away. She watched TV the
night before describing what was going to happen to the
property. And that morning, Ron Bath was there in town,
and found her passed away.
But the process of eminent domain in this
case is very different. No one complained about eminent
then. Those are things --
MR. DENHE: (From Audience) No, not true.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Sam.
MR. WALTHER: Except for Sam Denhe.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Steve, I'm going to have to
ask you to wrap up here because I want to get to the
MR. WALTHER: All right.
In this particular case, let's consider
quickly what happened. The owner who bought this
property bought it initially in 1997. Prior to that
time, there was twenty years of history of effort to try
and acquire this ranch. And in fact, the American Land
Conservancy had agreed to enter in to buy it through an
option for approximately eight to eight and a half
million dollars by an appraisal that was done by the same
gentleman, I believe, who appraised this for the County
That's ultimately the price which these
gentlemen, the Minnesota developer, bought this for was
eight and a half million dollars, consistent with the
appraisal done by the individual who did the appraisal
for the American Land Conservancy. The Ballardini Ranch
was prepared to allow them to buy it but could not
because the process itself was suspended, not relating to
After that, they then, before they actually
bought it, they did apply contingently for a change of
zoning to allow 2200 homes -- and they have the plat
here -- on the Ballardini Ranch. 2200 homes. That was
fought, and a couple of hours before the hearing, the
application was withdrawn.
Then an application was made. We decided we
had to do some things to acquire that ranch, so we asked
for a bond issue and got $4 million which the voters
approved to buy the entire ranch.
After that, an application was made under the
Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act for
$15 million, which was granted. After that was granted,
the owner never complained publically for a number of
months until last year, knowing it had been touted as
available source of funds, which would put together a
total of $20.5 million to acquire the ranch.
It was only until last fall when the County
Commission began to take action to appraise it that they
informed the federal government that the money was not
available and they became an unwilling seller, depriving
the County of the option to buy it.
We'll argue for option one. Options two and
three do not provide access to McCarran. They will
basically reduce the goals for which the Ballardini Ranch
was sought, namely the serenity, the habitat, and put all
the burden of the traffic on Ridgeview, and it will put
added stress on McCarran, Manzanita and Skyline.
We're basically saying here that -- and I'd
like to close by thanking all of the public entities in
the past that have considered this. The NABs, the
advisory boards unanimously over the last 20 years have
supported the Ballardini Ranch.
Our federal representatives have done the
same. And today you will hear from the federal
representatives who have once again pledged to get
whatever money the County needs to acquire the ranch.
There was once a statement made on
November 19th, 1863, by a gentleman who was talking about
values. President Lincoln was talking at Gettysburg when
he said, "The world will little note nor long remember
what we say here, but it can never forget what we did
here." It's appropriate to paraphrase that today.
This community will little note nor long
remember what we say here, but it will never forget what
the Commission does here today.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Steve. Thank you.
MR. DENHE: (From Audience) A point of
CHAIRMAN SHAW: No, no, no.
MR. DENHE: -- could you take those down now?
Take the tripods down, please.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Can we have these taken down,
please? Thank you.
Mr. Irwin, I didn't know if you wanted to
speak or not, or you want to wait until rebuttal?
MR. IRWIN: I'll donate my time to Mr. Nelson
and Mr. Thompson.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. All right. Very good.
What I have here is, I have this many cards
of people who signed up but do not wish to speak.
However, the message on the back is the same for everyone
that's here. And I am assuming that there's probably 300
plus or so, if I'm good at mathematics.
And what they're saying basically is: I
strongly support option one, to acquire the entire
1,019-acre Ballardini Ranch, by any legal means required
and to do it immediately. That's this stack.
I have this smaller stack of people who do
not wish to speak but who wish that I read, or some of us
read, the comments on the back. I've kind of perused
these during the presentation, and most of -- all of
these, I should say, are for, and many of the comments
are the same as presented in all of these here.
I have another stack of folks who wish to
speak. And I assume, because they're for, that most of
comments are going to be the same. I don't have a
problem doing that.
What we normally do, if we have ten or more
people that want to speak on the same item, we limit the
time to one minute. So if you want to --
MR. DENHE: (From Audience) Point of order.
That was a public comment.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Sam, please. This is my
meeting, not yours.
MR. DENHE: No, it isn't.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: If you --
MR. DENHE: It's my meeting, too.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: If you want to speak, we're
happy to do so. Then I have a few other cards that are
starting to come in.
So why don't I start with the people who want
to speak. If I call your name and you decide not to
speak, then that's fine. But if it gets repetitious,
then -- well, you'll see as you come down.
Do you want to start?
Okay. Let's start with Mary Conelly who is
here representing Senators Reid and Congressman Gibbons'
Mary, thank you for being here.
MS. CONELLY: Thank you, Commissioners.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: And we do have a copy of that
in our record.
MS. CONELLY: All right. I'm still going to
read a copy for the folks. For the record, my name is
Mary Conelly. I'm the state director for United States
Senator Harry Reid.
I'm going to read for the record a letter for
the Commissioners dated yesterday, signed by Senator Reid
and Congressman Gibbons.
"We support the local grass roots effort to
acquire for public uses open space and
wildlife habitats the 1019-acre Ballardini
Ranch in Washoe County.
"We wrote a joint letter to the Chairman and
Commission Members of Washoe County and to
the City of Reno Mayor and Councilmembers
last September 19th, 2003, expressing our
support. We write again today as you
consider actions necessary for the
acquisition of this special property.
"You should know that we will assist Washoe
County obtain federal funding to reimburse
the County for the acquisition costs of the
1019-acre ranch site. As you know, we
supported the use of federal funds for this
purpose and would do so again if the current
owners or Washoe County agree on a mutually
acceptable plan with the U.S. Forest Service.
"Additionally, you should know Congress
annually appropriates money for the land and
water conservation fund which pays for the
acquisition of public lands. We could also
seek this funding on an annual basis to
reimburse the County up to the extent you
wish such reimbursement.
"Although there are no guarantees with
respect to securing land and water
conservation moneys, there is a significant
likelihood that such funding could be
obtained. We stand ready to work with Washoe
County and others in the hope that through a
coordinated effort, this unique opportunity
to make this vision a reality will not be
"If you have questions, please let us know."
Signed by Harry Reid and Jim Gibbons.
I also just want to add a couple of thoughts
As you know, the $15 million that was secured
in federal funding before was from the Southern Nevada
Public Land, the Public Land Management Fund. And as
Commissioner Galloway did mention, there are hundreds of
millions of dollars in that fund. And those funds may be
available for this.
We mentioned the land and water conservation
fund in the event that that is not the case. This fund
was the primary tool used -- it is still the primary tool
used all across the country before we used Southern
Nevada Lands money here in Nevada.
The way that works is that's different from
how Southern Nevada Lands money works where it's an
executive committee made up of federal managers who
review all of the applications and make a decision.
As you know, senators and congressmen have
the ability to influence that decision. The Land and
Water Conservation Fund are appropriations directly
handled through Congress, and we've had some significant
success utilizing those funds for the acquisition of
properties for public use.
Some that you may recall, the land on Mount
Rose and some property in Verdi along the river, just to
mention a few that you may recall.
So we just wanted to let you know we're here
to help. Both Congressman Gibbons and Senator Reid, we
have received significant input, as have you, from their
constituents about the desirability of this action to
acquire this property. And we want you to know we're
here to help. And I'll take questions.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: One very quick
question. I know there may be a problem if we keep doing
this, but it's so vital here.
Land and Water Conservation Fund money, were
it to be available, would it allow Washoe County to have
the title to the land, or is it, again, the federal
government that would have the title to the land?
MS. CONELLY: It would be the federal
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Mr. Chairman, I had a
question as well.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes, Commissioner Weber.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Ms. Conelly, thank you
for being here. I am wondering, on the Southern Nevada
Public Lands Management Act funds, if you are aware of
those moneys being able to be utilized on eminent domain
or condemned properties.
MS. CONELLY: Good question. That issue was
raised a few weeks ago, and it was verified that those
funds are available to be used. There's nothing in the
act that prohibits that use.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: That's interesting
because I've been advised of something different.
MS. CONELLY: You know, there's nothing in
the law that prohibits it. That doesn't mean that
someone wouldn't try to prohibit it, but there's nothing
in the law that prohibits it.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you for being here.
MS. CONELLY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: And support from our
Okay. I'm going to read three names, and
then what I'd like you to do is, as you hear your name
read, if you would make your way down to the front,
there's seats here in the front, so we don't have to take
time for you to get out from the middle of wherever
you're sitting, and then we can follow in an orderly
I'd like to begin with Mr. Robert Cameron,
followed by Mr. Ted Short, followed by George Jorgeson,
and then Mr. Sam Denhe. And then we'll give you some
more names after that.
Mr. Cameron. We're going to do one minute.
MR. CAMERON: Robert Cameron, Washoe County
resident for the record. Boy, one minute.
I'm not going to try to imply that
Mr. Nelson's pants are on fire, but in the Gazette today,
it said that they would grant an easement to the national
forest. Yet two months ago at the CAB meeting, I
specifically asked him directly: Will Evans Creek allow
access through this property for citizens to the national
No, our clientele wouldn't like that.
Now, again quoting Mr. Timothy Nelson, who I
hope his pants are not on fire, let's see, buy the land
under the Southern Nevada -- not informing federal
officials of the landowners' change of heart.
He's implying that it was the County's
position to notify the federal government. That is
incorrect. It was their position to notify the
government that they were taking it off the market.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Mr. Shore. Mr. Jorgeson Mr. Sam Denhe and Ed
MR. SHORE: Thank you for the opportunity.
I'll be as brief as I can.
You know, we've heard a lot of crazy
valuations and numbers here today. I went over to the
County Treasurer yesterday. And to give you an idea of
what this land is paying to Washoe County today, this is
the Evans Creek, LLC, and their parcel number, 2208001.
Their total assessed value on this property is $76,857.
The total take to Washoe County in taxes per year is
$2,437.93. It works out to $2.39 an acre.
MR. SHORE: So this thing has been presented
very well. And you know, as you go on the road of life,
we don't always get a second chance. And when this thing
blew up, I was heartsick, as most of these people were,
and I'm sure you were, too. And somebody said to me that
worked with Steve Walther, he said, "He's not giving up."
Well, thank God he didn't give it up because today we
have a second chance.
You people will do something that will be the
best thing that's happened in this area for a long, long
time. And when we get 500,000 people in this valley and
every hayfield and every pasture is paved over and
subdivided, and if you have the Ballardini Ranch, it's
going to be a wonderful thing. So I urge you to vote
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Mr. Jorgeson followed by Sam
Denhe, Mr. Corbett, and Doris May Weber.
Mr. Jorgeson? Mr. Jorgeson is not here?
Mr. Sam Denhe.
MR. DENHE: Sam Denhe, the encyclopedia of
Reno government. I'm taking a different tact.
I note a blatant hypocrisy in this room. Two
blatant hypocrisies. I see several bureaucrats out there
who have done the same thing to devastate our community,
and now it's in their backyard, and they're coming down
here and putting on a different hat. That is blatant
And the second hypocrisy is you're talking
about saving peace and quite and serenity, and yet not
one person will come forward and get rid of these noisy,
dangerous, polluting Harley Davidsons that are far worse
than anything else in the community.
You're all a bunch of hypocrites, and I'm
siding with these guys right here.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Sam.
Mr. Corbett, followed by Ms. Weber, Toni
Harsh, and Everett Broderick.
MR. CORBETT: Okay. First of all, I'd like
to say I'm in favor of purchasing the entire Ballardini
Ranch. However, as a citizen and a taxpayer, I'd like to
express some reservations about how it is being done and
the price tag.
Just a few years ago, the Ballardini family
was negotiating with County Parks for something like
$4 million, and now a price of $20 million is being
I'm concerned about the tactics of the
so-called developer, Evans Creek, LLC. They've submitted
a few development plans, but they've all been turned down
flat for failing to comply with requirements for water,
sewage, and access to public lands.
They have responded to the planning
commission's suggestions with hostility and threats of
lawsuits. They have also hired armed security guards to
harass and arrest law-abiding citizens.
Rather than try to smooze with planning
boards to get proposals approved, they seem to be trying
to cause public outrage. It appears that the current
owner is really just another land speculator that is
committing eco extortion by pretending to or threatening
to develop the land in order to increase the selling
price to the County.
I think it would be improper to award this
kind of behavior by paying them a profit of over
$10 million. This is a very bad precedent, especially
with other development on the issues like Copper Creek.
With regards to Evans Creek, LLC, who are
these guys? I think it is incumbent on the County to do
a background check and publicly identify who the
principals are, really are, and if they have any
connections to local interest or politics. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, sir.
Ms. Weber, followed by Mr. Broderick,
followed by Scott Harrington.
MS. WEBER: Thank you for having me here and
letting me talk to you. Doris Weber. I've lived in
county and in Reno.
I don't have a lot of figures, but I'm here
to ask you, to almost beg you, to purchase the Ballardini
Ranch, the entire ranch.
I have a question for you. If an entity like
the City of Reno can come up with $240 million to build a
trench for a train so tourists aren't disturbed, why
can't we buy that ranch so that I can go out there and
walk, so that people of Washoe County can work, play, and
live here with pride? Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Please don't clap. We can get along a lot
MR. BRODERICK: Yes.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Then followed by Mr. Tom
Baker and then Mr. Scott Harrington.
MR. BRODERICK: My name is Everett Broderick.
I'm a Reno native and life-long resident. And I would
just like to reiterate a few points that have already
been made, but I feel they need to be made absolute.
Number one, is the number one item on the
Washoe County strategic priorities, and that is to
preserve natural resources. The area of the Ballardini
Ranch is probably the prime natural resource left in the
And number two priority is to promote quality
economic development. Quality economic development is
not compatible with destroying natural resources.
It's been brought up -- two points have been
brought up that I feel are worth bringing out. One is
the highest and best use of land the passive recreational
use. And as the both the excellent photographer and the
letter from Dr. Tueller pointed out, there are thousands,
countless of other creatures that use that land as the
foundation for their life. It's not passive recreational
The highest and best use of the land is to be
left as is, in its natural state, as the home for
thousands upon thousands of creatures. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Mr. Baker, followed by Mr. Harrington,
Mr. Bill Wallace, and Mr. Ken Rose.
MR. BAKER: Thank you. My comments will be
brief here. Don't know if a minute, but it's a bit
little different than some of the things you've heard.
My name is Tom Baker. I'm here to talk about
this issue. I'm the chairman of the board of
International Game Technology. I've been in this
community for over 16 years. With a point of background
I know you may know about IGT, but we employe about 2700
people in the Washoe Valley. We're a New York Stock
Exchange company, and our market cap is about
We also employ about 600 people in southern
Nevada and 2,000 other people around -- other people
around the world. Our business is international. We're
a technology company. But notably, we are the largest
employer of professional technology people in Nevada and
the only New York Stock Exchange company, to my
knowledge, in northern Nevada that maintains its
corporate offices in Reno.
Our company has been very successful. Our
mission has been to support the activities and
organizations in the communities where we operate. The
most notable reason for our success has been the quality
people we have been able to attract and retain as the
employees of IGT.
This has not been an easy task. From time to
time market conditions have made it extremely difficult
to compete against Microsoft, Intel, and other major
companies who want the same people we do.
Over 15 years of watching our company grow, I
know what is important to attract people to northern
Nevada. The most important issues are schools and open
space. We've been able to attract a lot of people
because of the outdoor activities that exist in the area.
I feel strongly that if Ballardini Ranch can
be maintained as an open space, accessible to all of us
in the valley, it will be a good thing for IGT. If,
however, it is developed into multiple housing
communities like much of the area has already become, it
could eventually put a handicap on our ability to attract
the kind of people we need to continue our success. It
is my opinion that this is a big deal for our company.
MR. DENHE: (From Audience) Point of order.
What happened to the one-minute deal?
WOMAN FROM AUDIENCE: Shut up, Sam.
MR. BAKER: I encourage you to do whatever
you can to see that this area is maintained.
My second point --
COMMISSIONER SHAW: Thank you. Okay. Thank
you, Mr. Baker.
MR. BAKER: All right.
MS. STEINER: (From the audience) I yield my
CHAIRMAN SHAW: How much more do you have,
MR. BAKER: One minute.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Because if I allow you
more, then you see what happens. See? So please sum up
and we'll go on to the next person.
MR. BAKER: My second point is brief. It
relates to my observations of other places I have
visited, many of which I'm sure you have, too. I think
they are places that are focused strictly on development
with little foresight of what it would be like in the
Los Angeles is a great city. People go there
for Disneyland and the beaches and the weather. No one
goes there to hang out in San Fernando Valley.
In your position and in mine, we have a
responsibility to make decisions for the future. I'm
responsible to shareholders, employees, and customers as
well as the communities where they do business. You have
a responsibility to the citizens of our community, and
your actions will determine the quality of life and the
quality of this community for years into the future. I
believe you have an opportunity to do something special.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay.
MR. BAKER: I urge you to make it happen.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Thank you.
MR. BAKER: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: We still have a number of
cards to go through. I just want you folks to know that
we've received all your phone calls, we received your
e-mails, we received your messages. We know basically
how you feel. And so, you know, when you come up here,
you know, we're fully aware of all these things.
So, like I say, you're in favor of it, give
some reasons that have not already been stated, and let's
move on, because I think every everybody is very anxious
to see what the vote is. And we could do that a lot
sooner than later, but that's up to you.
MAN FROM AUDIENCE: Just a quick question.
Does the Commission feel they need additional input in
order to reach a vote?
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Well, I can't speak for my
colleagues, but I would be one that I feel I have enough.
But at the same token, I don't want to deprive anyone the
opportunity to express their opinion.
If I read your name and you just say, I
support it, that's fine, we'll move on. Okay? Let's do
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Mr. Chairman, how
many more to go on the speakers?
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Several. I have all of these
that want to be read.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Okay. I heard
possibly a request for some kind of --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Let me just read your name.
If you're in support, give us a thumbs up, then you don't
have to come down unless you feel the need to do so. But
we want to hear something that we've not already heard.
And if you represent a company, that's fine.
But with all due respect to Mr. Baker, we don't need to
hear all the good things that IGT does. Okay? That's
what I'm saying.
And if we allow one to speak more, then
everybody else, as you've seen wants to speak more than
one minute, and we'll be here until midnight.
Okay. Commissioner Humke, do you need to
hear more or do you want to continue on with the cards?
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Mr. Chair, I've been
reading the many, many hundreds of e-mails, and they're
about 100 to one, maybe 200, 300 to one in favor. So the
testimony is consistent with that, and it's not that I
don't want to hear more, but I think I have enough
information. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Commissioner Weber?
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Mr. Chairman, I have
I appreciate all the folks that have been
here, taking the time. We have received hundreds of
e-mails, phone calls. I have enough information. But
those folks that need to talk --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes. Commissioner Sferrazza?
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: Mr. Chairman, my
position hasn't changed in the last 20 years. I've known
Steve Walther, and I went back to Washington. I don't
think anything's going to change that tonight.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Mr. Chairman, could I
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, if somebody had compelling new
information to say that we shouldn't do this, they should
come forward because everything I've got so far points
the other way, that we should do it and we should, so
far, acquire the whole Ballardini.
And so what I don't want to do, and I want
this Board to be very careful not to do, is to deprive
anybody who has compelling contrary information of the
opportunity to give it. But right now -- and I'm open to
it, but it will have to be very convincing, because right
now, all the weighing of the evidence, it looks like we
should go ahead.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: I should say, I do have three
letters here, two letters, actually, and a card in
opposition to this request. One is from a Mr. Mark
Anderson, and I have no address on Mr. Anderson, Mark
Anderson. And a Mitch Brown who lives at 2508 Rampart
Terrace in Reno. And then I have a card from Eddie
Anderson, and I'm not sure if he is still in the audience
tonight or not. I saw him earlier.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Those are opposed?
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Those are the three that are
opposed that I have so far.
MR. DENHE: (From the audience) Sam Denhe,
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yeah, you spoke already on
MR. GALLOWAY: You spoke.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Mr. Bill Wallace, is
there anything you wanted to add? You need to come down.
Mr. Wallace, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Rose, Beth
and Herb Rubenstein, Mike Robinson.
Go ahead, Mr. Wallace.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my
name is Bill Wallace. I am chairman of the Hawkins
Foundation. I worked with the County in building the
amphitheater at Bartley Ranch. And it's a marvelous
facility for this community.
So I recognize that these condemnation and
these cooperative ventures can work. We can make it
work. We can do it. As the TV commercial I think you've
seen, $4 million from the taxpayer, great. $20 million
from a generous donor, wonderful. Option one on the
Ballardini Ranch, priceless. Go ahead.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, sir.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Mr. Harrington, did you want
to address us? Okay, but you are in favor, I assume.
Ken Rose. And then Beth and Herb Rubenstein,
and then Mr. Robinson.
MR. ROSE: I'm actually Mr. Rose.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: I'm sorry. Mr. Rose.
MR. ROSE: My name is Ken Rose, and for the
past seven years I've served on the Washoe County Open
Space and Regional Parks Commission. Twice I've been its
chairman. I only have one minute, so I'm going to cut to
the quick here.
In November of 2000, 62 percent of our voters
said that they have the trust and confidence in this
board to purchase the Ballardini Ranch, presumably in its
entirety. Although the means of acquisition may change,
the end result does not. If eminent domain is the only
possible means to that end, then so be it.
If the City of Reno can condemn developed
property to build a trench, then certainly the County can
condemn undeveloped property to preserve open space for
I'm also an architect. No doubt beautiful
homes can be built up in Ballardini, but sometimes the
most significant architecture occurs when structures are
Now you have to be the architect for the
future. Be wise. Design the whole house for us to live
in, not just half of it. I urge to you support option
one. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mr. Rose.
Mr. and Mrs. Rubenstein, would you like to
MR. RUBENSTEIN: I'll go first.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Then Mike Robinson,
Turkey Stremmel, Marco Romero and Ray Watson, if you want
to address us.
MR. RUBENSTEIN: Herb Rubenstein, 4005 Odile
Court. I've reduced my piece of paper to one paragraph.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MR. RUBENSTEIN: Ballardini and Arrow Creek
corridor is both pristine and breath-taking. What's more
is that the unique wildlife area is right here, adjacent
to the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area. That is precisely
why option one is the best choice, is the access. Access
from McCarran makes it work for everybody. Efficient
access to the Ballardini Ranch would be very similar to
what we have now with Rancho San Rafael. Anything less
than option one would be strictly access. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Thank you, sir.
Mrs. Rubenstein, would you like to address
Followed by Mike Robinson, Turkey Stremmel,
Marco Romero and Ray Watson.
MRS. RUBENSTEIN: My name is Beth Rubenstein,
4005 Odile Court, Reno, Nevada 89511.
I'm reading a letter, a condensed letter, to
the Commissioners from Bruce Arkell. He resides at 1725
Brittany Court, Reno. He has -- let's see. He has been
working on transportation issues. I'll say it in first
"I've been working with transportation issues
in both the public and private sector for 25
years in Washoe County. While planning
manager for the RTC, I was responsible for
developing the transportation component of
the southwest master plan in the early 1980s.
That was the first official recognition that
transportation was having a major impact on
the unique characteristics of the southwest.
"After leaving the RTC, I was general manager
at Summit Engineering and owned a
traffic-consulting business. During this
time, I worked on several land development
projects in the southwest, all which were
designed to recognize the approved master
I'm going to go to the last paragraph:
"The full development of the Ballardini Ranch
will, in my opinion, push McCarran Boulevard
into failure. In conclusion, it is my
opinion the traffic impacts from development
of Ballardini Ranch are such that this
particular property would better serve our
community as a recreational open-use site.
Bruce D. Arkell.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Mike, followed by Turkey Stremmel.
MR. ROBINSON: Good afternoon, Chairman Shaw,
Members of the Commission. My name is Mike Robinson.
I'm president of Friends of Rancho San Rafael Park. I'm
also on the Washoe County Organizational Effectiveness
Committee, but I'm not speaking for either one of those
And I want to remind the Chairman, in the
past when I have spoken, I have not used up the whole
three minutes, so maybe you could carry that over for me
a little bit. But I will be brief.
I want to address one thing. The developers
talk about 120 million. That would be if you sold every
single acre for $120,000. And that does not happen in
any development anywhere. You've got huge development
costs with roads and sewer and water, et cetera,
et cetera. And I'm sure you're all aware of that. But
it just shows how difficult and hard to get along with
these people for Minnesota are. Now, I don't know what's
in the water there, but there must be something.
The other thing I want to address here is
what they address was a public need. I grew up in this
town. As a young boy, I visited and fished in Virginia
Lake and Idlewild Park and the Truckee River down in
Wingfield Park. And later on I became involved in Rancho
San Rafael Park and Bartley Ranch Park. These are all
bigger and bigger developments. Nobody ever has said,
why did we build this here or this is a bad project.
You know, the marina in Sparks, they talk
about the divider on B Street, well, they did away with
that. But nobody ever criticized the marina of being a
bad project. The fish in front of the federal building,
Now we're looking at the Ponderosa Ranch and
we're looking at the Ballardini Ranch. Unfortunately
we're not able to get that. But as this community has
grown, we have seen a need for larger and larger pieces
property to be taken out and preserved for our public.
And you can see that the public is behind you
100 percent, and it's your choice to make this afternoon,
and I know you have the leadership to make the right
choice. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mike.
Turkey Stremmel. Marco Romero. Ray Watson,
and Toni Harsh.
MS. STREMMEL: Thank you. My name is Turkey
Stremmel, and I live in the southwest. I am also, I
think, a visionary in the art world.
I would like to say -- I would like to paint
two distinctive canvasses for you today. One, a
beautiful Ballardini Ranch hugged by the mountains that
we see, fabulous with the rich, green sagebrush,
bitterbrush. Lots of animal life, paths.
Take that second canvas, a big black canvas.
That canvas is traffic and pollution and all the water
problems that we see that we have in our community.
I and all the other voters out here I don't
think want to see that black canvas. The only person
that wants to see that black canvas are those Minnesota
We have a choice to purchase a canvas that is
pristine and gorgeous, beautiful. And I hope that
whatever canvas we choose, we will know that that canvas
is going to be with us for now and forevermore. Thank
you for your time.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. Marco Romero.
MR. ROMERO: I will make this brief, but I
think it's important I say it.
No two words stir more emotion than "no
trespassing" when approaching a piece of property,
whether it be true or not true. Yet every day my father,
Bruno Romero, walks his trails, and what he gets is no
trespassing. For 40 years -- 1964 my, father, who was a
construction company owner, built a home on Julienne Way,
and he walked that Ballardini Ranch with no trespassing
signs, no one ever blocked his way, no one ever said he
could not walk those trails.
Last meeting, the gentleman here from Evans
Creek said, well, that trail that he walks will not be
part of the development. Well, I asked that gentleman,
does that mean that that no trespassing sign will go
down? I very much doubt it. Please buy this property.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. I don't know if
you remember me, Mr. Romero, but I surely remember you.
I'll talk to you after the meeting. I'll give you some
time to think about it. You're drawing a blank. Okay.
I'll talk to you later.
He was one of my students a long time ago.
MR. WATSON: Good afternoon. Ray Watson. I
live in southwest Reno.
I'm very happy to see that you've apparently
taken to heart some words of a well-known retired judge
in our area. It's time to get it on and get the whole
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. Toni Harsh,
followed by Faith Fessenden, Charles Ragusa, and Terry
Winston and Martha Gould.
MS. HARSH: Thank you very much. My name is
Toni Harsh, and I appreciate what you're going through
sitting up there today because eminent domain is
extremely difficult, but that's why public officials have
the right to exercise that because they're operating in
the best interest of the public.
The reason I'm here before you, and I'm not
going to promise I'm going to be brief, because I want to
tell you a story that I don't think very many people in
this audience can say.
My family's ranch was condemned by the State
of California. And at 28 years of age, my mother had
passed away, and I had to go into that room and sign over
the final ranch holdings of our family to the State of
California. I was 28 years old.
When I was 29 years old I had two children,
and I was walking on the ranch. And today we still go
down and walk on the ranch. I can show my children where
my grandfather's horse is buried. It was his favorite
mare. We can still walk along the creek that flooded,
and we still can do all of the things that we did as
children growing up, my children can do. The only
exception is the cattle are not there, the horses are not
there, but the deer are, the skunks are, and all of the
range that we get to walk over.
So I want to let you know that I have
experienced eminent domain, I have experienced
condemnation. And the reason I did not say pro or con, I
just wanted to tell you about a life experience that my
family and I have gone through. Good luck.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Faith, followed by Charles Ragusa, Mary
Winston and Martha Gould.
MS. FESSENDEN: I had planned on three, so we
will see what we can do. Ego and greed. Ego, defiance,
obstructionism, disdain. Greed to sneer at 200 plus or
minus return as insufficient.
Mr. Nelson stated that no one would take an
insignificant amount for their property when we talked
about the appraisals, that it would totally depend upon
their purchase price. They would not be an insignificant
amount. And yet he responded to Mr. Sferrazza saying
their purchase price was a non issue.
Rapacious development in this valley has been
staggering. However, far-seeing citizens, newcomers,
old-comers alike gathered and have acted to preserve
special areas throughout, Rancho San Rafael being one,
Bartley Ranch another. Both big, expensive and
controversial projects with the citizens on one side and
developers on the other, just like now.
Preserve the Ballardini Ranch, the whole
ranch, option one. It's a tough job with the bomb shell
that was dropped today with regards to the appraisal.
There's a wonderful saying: The opportunity
of a lifetime must be taken within the lifetime of the
opportunity. The opportunity is now, its lifetime is
now. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Faith.
Charles, did you want to address us? Okay.
Now, remember, if you don't want to come
down, just wave your hand and say I support the previous
speaker. We'd love to hear that.
Charles, go ahead.
MR. RAGUSA: Thank you. Good afternoon.
Charles Ragusa, Reno, Nevada.
Occasionally a day arrives where a challenge
is presented that truly defines us on an individual basis
as well as a community as a whole. I ask you to endure
the challenges being placed upon you in preserving a
portion of our community with the hope that the adversity
encountered will make way for a better tomorrow for all
of us. I truly see this as a struggle of hope over
adversity. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. That was well
Mary, followed by Martha Gould, Al Antignolo,
if I pronounce that correctly. And then the Steiner
MS. WINSTON: My name is Mary Winston. I'm
representing the Truckee Meadows Trails Association, and
that association is supporting option one. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MS. GOULD: Mr. Chairman, Members of the
Commission, my name is Martha Gould. I live in the old
northwest. I served for 18 months or more on the quality
of life task force that was -- gave input into the
regional plan. Needless to say, I support option one.
You have a unique opportunity.
But I also want to say that as a taxpayer in
this community, I bitterly resent the egregiously
arrogant proposal dumped on you in a, I think, in the
means of trying to force you. And Minnesota is
Minnesota, but we're Washoe County, and we need our open
space. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Martha.
Mr. Antignolo, if I pronounced that
MR. ANTIGNOLO: Yes, that's fine. I'll be
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
MR. ANTIGNOLO: I have 810 petitions in favor
of option number one. I'd just like to make them part of
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Certainly. Thank you.
Ellen or Elaine Steiner.
MS. STEINER: We'll trust in your judgment.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Carl Adams.
MR. ADAMS: (From the audience) I support
option one. I don't need to speak.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Mr. Cliff Young. Mr. Young.
MR. YOUNG: Chairman Shaw, fellow
Commissioners, I'm a Washoe County park commissioner, and
I serve on several committees with the Regional
Transportation Commission, advocating bicycle and
Over the last three years, we've been
circulating a survey as to what it is the people want.
I'm sure you've seen the regional plan. There's all
sorts of lines.
The highest public support came from a trail
along the west perimeter from Galena Creek, through the
Arrow Creek, and through this proposed purchase.
I think it's representative of where people
would really like to get outside and use our public
resources and just want to advocate you supporting it.
I just wanted to add also that it was
40 years ago that my father worked on the green belt
master plan. And we still use that same master plan that
identified this as an important thoroughfare to access
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mr. Young. Bill
Van Pole (phonetic).
MR. VAN POLE: (From the audience) I support
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Great.
Laura Carmen. Ms. Carmen. Followed by Robin
Palmer, Floyd Dean and Rick Licata.
MS. CARMEN: Good afternoon, ladies and
gentlemen. On behalf of the Hidden Valley Homeowners
Association, I'd like to endorse option number one for
your approval. And two points that we'd like to make.
This is a little bit of western heritage that
needs to be preserved. And the other thing is, I think
Steve Walther touched on upon it briefly, and that is a
community value judgment.
In November of 2000, there was a $38 million
bond approval. The community has spoken. Please endorse
this. Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Laura.
MS. PALMER: Option one, the whole enchilada.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you. I think you
should just come down so we can a better look at that hat
you're wearing. That may make a lot of points with us.
Floyd Dean, followed by Rick Licata and Eric
Petersen and Bob Berry. And then we're almost to the
MR. DEAN: Floyd Dean. I'm a resident of
southwest Reno. Been a resident here for 11 years.
First 22 years I lived in Minnesota, and I'm a proud
escapee from Minnesota.
MR. DEAN: Wish to make a point that hasn't
been made. I've spoken to the City Council on this issue
before about the Ballardini Ranch, and it is that we, as
a community, have put a great investment in telling the
rest of country and the world what this part of the
country is. We've changed it from leaving the casinos
behind and we're making a new path.
I believe that this is the opportunity of a
lifetime for this County and City to get together and
speak with one voice to our country and to the rest of
the world what we have to offer. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you very much.
Rick, followed by Eric Petersen, Bob Berry.
MR. LICATA: For the record, I'm Rick Licata,
president elect of the American Institute of Architects.
The American Institute of Architects has
developed a booklet called "Communities By Design." One
of the strongest aspects of the booklet is the
preservation of open spaces. So I would encourage that
the County Commissioners not only purchase the Ballardini
Ranch, but also parlay that along with the Arrow Creek
property into a green belt that will focus the
development in the urban areas of the county. Thank you
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Petersen, followed by Bob Berry, Bob
Rowan, Peggy Lear Bowen.
MR. PETERSEN: Thank you. I'll be quick to
point out one more reason to purchase the ranch. I hold
a Ph.D. in plant ecology. I can say that, for certain,
landscapes in the western United States do burn
periodically. Almost every type of landscape. There
will be more fires in -- wild fires in the southwest Reno
hills. I can guarantee that almost everyone in Carson
City would point out that we need to have access to fight
fires when they do occur.
Development of the ranch would force us to
get permission to cross people's land, probably knock
down their landscaping and fences in the process.
Option one would preserve the access points
that we currently have, several access points to the
hills to fight fires, save homes, and possibly even save
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, sir.
Bob Berry. Bob Rowan. Peggy Lear Bowen.
Helena Coughlin and Roland Martin.
MR. PERRY: Thank you for your patience. We
really appreciate it. I live in Reno. I've lived here
for 50 years. What I do for a living is I'm an attorney
at law, but I also am a professional negotiator. And I
just wanted to make a couple of negotiation strategy
There's two kinds of negotiations:
Noncoercive and coercive. Noncoercive is the car example
that was used earlier. You go in, and if you don't want
to buy the car, you walk out and there's no consequence.
If you want to buy a refrigerator and you can't come to a
deal, each party walks away, there's no consequences.
In this case since the beginning, this Evans
Creek has clearly demonstrated that they are not willing
sellers, and it's continued to this day. This report
today that we have is the most preposterous thing I've
heard in my life.
So what they're asking for is a coercive
negotiation. There's only one way to get a coercive
negotiation, and that's by filing a lawsuit. The only
way you can get these people, who clearly do not
understand the rules and regulations of the road, is to
bring them to court and to have a court supervise them
and have them give to the court the ridiculous proposal
that they gave us here.
One final comment. Every time I see these
folks, they come with different lawyers. Get your money
in advance, boys.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Bob Rowan. Is Bob still
here? How about Peggy Lear Bowen? And Helena Coughlin
and Roland Martin.
MS. BOWEN: Hello, wonderfuls. You're about
to make wonderful history again.
25 years ago people sitting in your position
did the job, and this community, as you can see, came
together, and we have Rancho San Rafael.
We're not talking about dollars and cents
here. We're talking about dreams, we're talking about
future, and we're talking about the keeping the green
emerald gems and keeping with the growth of our community
and making it right one more time. Thank you. I hope
you're going to just go great guns. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
Helena and then Roland Martin.
MS. COUGHLIN: Hello. My name is Helena -- I
go by Holly -- Coughlin. I'm from Sparks, Nevada. I'm
chair of the local Great Basin Sierra Club Group. I came
here to the last meeting to talk with you. And I'm going
to make this really short.
I talked a little bit here, I wrote this all
up about how I use the area for hiking and all that.
Well, you've heard that. What I'd like to say is that on
behalf the Great Basin Group of the Sierra Club, I
respectfully petition our Washoe County Commissioners to
unanimously support the purchase of the entire
1,019 acres of the Ballardini Ranch.
This area has been enjoyed by citizens for
generations, not only for the tranquil beauty the ranch
land offers, but for access to our public U.S. Forest
Service lands to the west.
Thank you very much for your consideration in
this matter, and we definitely want to support -- have
you support purchasing the entire property. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Holly.
Mr. Martin? Mr. Roland Martin? He's
Okay. I have about 30 cards here that I'm
going to put into the record and give to the clerk at the
conclusion of the this agenda item. I'm not going to go
through them. They didn't request to speak, but they
have writings on the back that they're all in support. I
think it's just a matter of support that's already been
Okay. I have got about three more, and then
we'll have Evans Creek come back up for a few minutes and
we'll bring it to the table for a vote.
Mr. Gary Schmidt, followed by Mr. Eddie
MR. SCHMIDT: For the record, Gary Schmidt,
33-year resident and property owner and business operator
in Washoe County. And I'd also like to disclose that I
am a member of the Washoe County Board of Equalization of
property tax, a property taxable value appellant body in
this community, and that this particular parcel has never
been before me on the board.
I've passed out a copy of current -- I'd also
like to disclose that I've probably spent more hours in
the assessor's office, although I've never been an
employee there, than half the assessors in there over the
last ten years.
I've passed out -- and I want to thank my
good friend, former Commissioner Ted Short, for his
contribution. He went to the treasurer's office; I went
to the assessor's office.
I've passed out a copy of the current Washoe
County appraisal record sheet which shows your county
assessor, Mr. McGowan, has currently appraised or
assigned a taxable line value on that entire thousand
acres of $130,199. That constitutes the $2,000 taxes
that Mr. Short talked about.
If the taxable value -- just one quick
second -- and I passed out that, so that will go on the
If the taxable value were set at $20 million,
the taxes would be approximately $210,000 a year. If it
were set at the $120 million, which I think there was an
adverse admission that they think it is, the taxes would
be $1,260,000 a year. There seems to be a little
One last point is that any resident of Washoe
County can file an appeal with the County of Washoe which
would ultimately be heard by the Board of Equalization
because you are an aggrieved party because you spend part
of the tax base. And if you think that that value is
undertaxed on the tax rolls, you may all go down and file
an appeal to be heard next year in February.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Did you give your
name and address for the folks so they can do that?
Is Mr. Anderson still in the room? Mr. Eddie
Anderson is opposed to this, and he writes: I support
the developer. The County shocked and lied again. Eddie
Oivan Frock (phonetic), if I'm pronouncing
that correctly, is also in support of it. They've
brought a card by the office and asked that it be read
into the record. Christopher Snyder in Reno is also in
support for it, as well as Susie Sefpor (phonetic), if
I'm pronouncing that correctly.
We have a few other folks that have sent in
letters that we will include in the record. In addition
to Mr. Anderson, as I said before, and we'll submit this
in the record, a Mitch Brown and a Mark Anderson also
wrote not supporting the -- buying the ranch in option
And to the best of my knowledge, we have one
last thing. We received this rather lengthy document
from Evans Creek today. Part of it's written by
Mr. Nelson, and then there's pages of maps and whatnot
presenting their position.
MS. SINGLAUB: And, Mr. Chairman, I would
like to note for the record that we received that at
about 10:30 today, and it was provided to the Reno
Gazette Journal at 7:30 last night.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. And then we also have
the report that was reference earlier from Mr. Tueller.
We'll put that in the record also in reference to the
Okay. Anybody else?
This is Peggy Lear Bowen: "Point of order,
request due process after the close of agenda item, the
opportunity to answer any questions."
I don't know if that would be necessary, but
we'll see how it goes.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Mr. Chairman, if we
close the public info, we still can ask staff --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes.
MR. GALLOWAY: And I have a question for
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Before we do that, I
told the folks from Evans Creek they could have a few
minutes to rebut.
MS. ADAMS: I also put in a thing. I wasn't
CHAIRMAN SHAW: What's your name?
MS. ADAMS: Cindy Adams.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. I didn't see it,
Cindy. Go ahead.
MS. ADAMS: Cindy Adams, lifetime resident of
Reno, Nevada. I just hope and pray and, I see the
knowledge of the Commissioners today, that when looking
at an appraisal for this property -- I already feel, as a
county resident, I'm being held hostage. And I'm sure
you also feel the same way.
We're talking about apples and oranges, which
I know you all know. This property has not gotten
approvals. It has not gotten adequate wells. It has not
And yet this person has the gall to compare
it with properties that have gotten all of these things
and sold and everything else. And I'm just wanting you
to take that into consideration. I appreciate your time.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you very much. In an
effort to recognize those of you who came this afternoon
for this agenda item whose name perhaps I did not read
because of the massive number of request-to-speak forms
that were given, would you show us by a show of hands --
or if you prefer to stand up, one or the other, why don't
you stand up.
Those of you who support us going ahead with
the Ballardini Ranch in option one, would you please
rise. And raise your hands if you're in the back.
Very good. Thank you.
Mr. Nelson, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Irwin. Whoever
wants to come forward.
MR. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: In light of being very
patient and hearing what you've heard, I'm not going to
limit you to a certain amount of time. But if you exceed
perhaps 20 minutes, I might call you, if you need --
MR. THOMPSON: Just a few minutes,
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: I'd like to take our
break, point of order.
MR. THOMPSON: I just have a few minutes, if
you will allow me that.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes.
MR. THOMPSON: First of all, Mr. Chairman and
Commissioners, I can think of no more coercive
negotiation than that one engaged in by the County, that
is, sell us your property for pennies on the dollar or we
will condemn it and seize it. That in my opinion is the
most coercive negotiation tactic imaginable.
Now, we have been subjected during this
hearing to appalling provincialism and mob mentality.
And I am shocked that a member of the Nevada State Bar
would engage in that behavior in this room. But that has
Now, the gentleman stated that perhaps the
best place for this would be in a courtroom. Well,
perhaps he is correct, and let me tell you why.
There is a large group of private citizens
here in this room, most of whom live in southwest Reno.
And it appears that we do not have any allies here before
you. But that is not the case.
We have three very powerful allies. The
first one is the federal Constitution. The second one is
the Constitution of the State of Nevada. And the third
one is the thousands of Washoe County taxpayers who will
be called upon to foot a tax bill of hundreds of millions
of dollars who are not in this room.
Now, what we have heard here is a group of
private citizens prevailing on a government body not to
condemn property for a public purpose, but for private
purposes. What we have heard is how the Ballardini Ranch
creates a buffer between their private property and the
Well, let me be very clear that the federal
and state Constitutions provide a buffer zone between
groups of private citizens who seek to use public
authority to take the private property of other people.
And that is the ally with which we will be armed if we do
wind up in court. And let me be very clear about that.
There is no public need for this taking. And
the very best evidence of that is this: Because the
touted public need that we have heard over and over again
is that we need access to the national forest. That is
what we have to have and that is why we have to condemn
the Ballardini Ranch when in fact I stood up in front of
all of you a few moments ago -- a couple hours ago and
told you that Evans Creek had granted public access
across the Ballardini Ranch upon approval of its final
parcel map. And I have not heard one citizen acknowledge
that or say anything about it. And you know why that is?
Because it is a pretext.
There is no public need. It is a pretext for
private citizens to take the property of another for
their own private purposes. And that is all I have to
say. Thank you very -- except one other point.
I would like to make one other point, and I
would like to thank the gentleman for raising the issue
of the assessed value of the Ballardini Ranch, and to
point out to him that the Ballardini Ranch has been
subject to an agricultural tax deferment for decades, and
that accounts for its assessed value.
And the efforts of Evans Creek to develop
this property will subject that property to the same
taxes as any other property in the county. And not only
that will provide for a recapture of those taxes for
seven years, but what the tax issue is relevant to is
And we have provided the County Commissioners
in our submittal with a listing of the assessed value of
similarly situated properties in the southwest Reno area.
And those assessed values will support a value for this
property as I have previously stated, which is far, far,
far in excess of the$20 million assessed by the -- or
appraised by the County's appraiser, and will, in fact,
create a tax bill for the Washoe County taxpayers who are
not here of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mr. Thompson.
Mr. Nelson, anything you'd like to add before
we bring it to closure?
MR. NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We've heard over and over again that the
public need, the public will, for the acquisition of this
property is declared in the $4 million line item for
purchase of the Ballardini Ranch that was approved as
part of the 2000 parks and open space issue.
I would submit to you that that's a very thin
basis for determining the public need for acquisition of
this property. Number one, for the reason that the
$4 million was a number that came out of nowhere, was
never discussed with Evans Creek, the property owners; is
admittedly less than half of what has already been paid
for the property two years previous; has no bearing on
the actual fair market value of the property. The four
million was also roughly one-tenth of the overall bond
The voters approved an overall bond issue, I
believe, of 38-some million. If they had had an
appraisal done of the Ballardini Ranch going into that
bond issue, shown its true fair market value, I would
suspect that we would not be standing here tonight
discussing this issue because there would have been no
indication of public will to purchase the Ballardini
Ranch as part of that bond issue.
We think we've made a fair and genuine
proposal for the County to purchase the property without
condemnation. If you're telling us that you're convinced
that the fair market value and the highest and best use
are the appropriate legal mechanisms for valuing the
property, then why not commit to that? Stand up to the
taxpayers, tell them we don't need a condemnation effort,
we'll buy it based on the fair market value as determined
by independent appraisers.
I think you'll hesitate to that because in
your hearts you don't believe that $19 million is a fair
market value. I challenge you to consider that in your
deliberation and in your decision this evening.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Mr. Nelson.
Mr. Irwin, did you want to address us?
MR. IRWIN: No, sir.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: All right. I will bring it
back to the Board now for its deliberation and possible
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Yes. I wanted to ask
our legal counsel to comment on two points that were
raised by Evans Creek and its representatives. One is
the -- this proposed -- and I don't know myself right now
whether this is something that would be acceptable, but
it's a proposed offer to establish a selling price, what
they would agree to.
And they used words a lot "highest and best
use," whereas my understanding is fair market value is
the ultimate thing that we're after. I want to know, are
they interpreting the role of highest and best use in
determining fair market value? Do you see any
discrepancy between their interpretation and what your
MS. SHIPMAN: No.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Okay. The second one
is the -- I see things like wildlife preservation, I see
recreational uses, I even seen traffic benefits and other
things involved in digging this land into public
ownership. And I also see activities being allowed that
in many cases, although they may not be huge events,
could be considered even events.
But what are your comments on their assertion
that those aren't public uses and those aren't allowed by
Nevada state law?
MS. SHIPMAN: Well, first of all, I'd like to
say that, again, I'm not the condemnation expert. There
would be outside counsel handling any condemnation if
that were to occur.
However, with that stated, I'm not aware that
the Constitution uses the word "need." It talks about
public purpose. And I believe that the record here
tonight, as well as the case law, would support that
there can be any number of public purposes that would
satisfy the constitutional requirement for the exercise
of the eminent domain.
And I've been assured by outside counsel that
it would be considered a public purpose, and I think the
record tonight probably established that even more.
There was a second part to your question.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: No, I think you've
answered the sense of the question. There are these
various benefits, and some of them I think you've
indicated can be public purposes. And their assertion
was that only if it's direct public use such as building
a building or that sort of thing, that that's the only
thing that the Constitution or state law allows.
MS. SHIPMAN: Well, it's public use or public
purpose. It's not necessarily -- and maybe it's
semantics, but I don't think it is. I think there's a
big difference between a public purpose or public use and
a public need.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Okay. Well,
Mr. Chairman, the last thing I just want to point out is
that the northern portion of the Ballardini is in my
commission district and the adjacent population, which is
a lot of people, are in my County Commission district.
The southern area is in Commissioner Humke's district,
the one adjacent to Arrow Creek.
So if it's time you want a motion, I would
feel privileged to make it.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes.
Commission Humke, comments.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: You know, we've heard a
lot of testimony, and there are some people opposed to
this for some good reasons. And I think it's important
to pay attention to those people's interests, and I
believe that we have listened to them fairly. But this
is something that does have a clear public purpose.
And Mr. Galloway asked the question that I
wanted to ask of Counsel as to whether or not we could
attenuate a clear public purpose for this condemnation,
and I'm satisfied that we can.
So I'm ready to move forward.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: With respect to the
public purpose, I'd bring to everyone's attention Item
28(c), which is coming up tonight.
Washoe County did condemn 114.96 acres on
Slide Mountain in the 1960s for $50,000. And later
tonight -- we have an appraisal on that property today of
$50,000 which is going to be given away. So just so
you're all aware of that.
And that's similar open space which, for some
reason, the majority of people feel should be given away
to Mount Rose Development Company for 50,000 and a
additional donation of $200,000, bringing the total to
$250,000, which is just a little over $2,000 an acre.
So there is past precedent in Washoe County
for condemning public -- or private property for public
purposes. And that's exactly what happened in 1960.
I think that we do have clear public purposes
tonight: wildlife preservation, open space preservation,
which is number our one goal which we established as a
I think it's just unfortunate that we didn't
also condemn Double Diamond and some of the other
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: But this is one of
the last ones we have left, and I'd be proud to support a
motion by anyone on this Commission to go forward with
the acquisition of the property.
I think that there's ample public purpose and
there's ample reason to support a negotiation, but I
think it's going to fail and, ultimately, condemnation.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Commissioner Weber.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I just need to say to all of
you, I take your comments and your opinions very
seriously. This is really a hard decision for me to
It's with all due respect to every property
owner here, all the residents, taxpayers, to Mr. Short,
Toni Harsh, thank you for being here and for saying what
There's friends out here. I have
constituents out here.
I cannot support taking anyone's property.
That's your property in Silver Knolls, in Antelope
Valley, in Caughlin Ranch.
That being said, when I was elected to
office, I was elected to represent the citizens of Washoe
County. I cannot, in good conscience, support condemning
anyone's property or their land. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Commissioner
Weber. Your -- I won't say any more.
I don't know if it's an advantage or
disadvantage of being chair because usually the
opportunity for me to speak is always last, and unless
I'm breaking a tie, usually what has -- and I don't think
that's going to happen tonight.
Usually what I would like to say has already
been said by my colleagues, and I would certainly concur
with -- and I appreciate Commissioner Weber's remarks
because I think she's a very sincere person and speaks
her own mind.
But I do see the need for the public need and
public use here. I guess -- I don't know if it's
appropriate to say or not.
I was a little disappointed with the
applicants, Evans Creek, because of the fact that they
brought this to us at such a late hour. If we could have
seen this a little bit ahead of time, perhaps we could
have reached some kind of an agreement.
But obviously, you bring it to us the night
of the hearing, it doesn't give us an opportunity, nor
our staff an opportunity to really review it.
And I think the reaction you got from the
folks in response to that is probably similar to my
response, is that it was just, you know, ludicrous in my
But in any event, I will turn it over to
Commissioner Galloway for a motion and we'll see what
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Mr. Chair?
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes, I'm sorry. Yes?
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: If I could just add one
thing. And I would appreciate the right to second the
motion based on the --
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Certainly, yes.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: The Evans Creek folks
suggested that this is, if you will, we're doing the
bidding of a group of private citizens for a
condemnation. And obviously they're trying to set up
their legal strategy. But I wish to say that -- and
enter into the record that I've examined -- tried to
examine all the e-mails that keep flowing in.
But support comes from every corner of this
county. Absolutely every area, every neighborhood, and
it is not restricted to the southwest. It is truly
broad-based support by the citizens of this County.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Mr. Chairman, I do
appreciate Commissioner Weber's sincerity. However, you
know, the government, your local government, responsive
to the people and for the people, has to have a mechanism
to cope with situations that are critical and really need
addressing. And this is one tool we don't use lightly.
But finding that it is justified by public
purposes, I move to approve option one and direct staff
to review the Evans Creek proposal, to establish purchase
price for the property; and if possible, consistent with
the public interest, to reach a recommended agreement on
a proposal for establishing the purchase price.
The motion also authorizes the Chairman to
execute a resolution of condemnation for option one,
acquisition of the entire Ballardini property.
If agreement on a proposal to establish the
purchase price is not reached in time for the August 10th
meeting of the Commission, if the resolution is executed,
this motion authorizes the Chairman and/or Manager, as
appropriate, to execute documents necessary to pursue a
And, also, of course, staff is further
directed to continue exploration of all possible funding
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Second the motion.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: We have a motion and a
second. Is there any further discussion?
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: I will support the
motion. I just -- my only concern is that we have an
updated appraisal before we actually condemn it so we
know what we're talking about. I understand that right
now we're talking in the neighborhood of 20 million, but
I would certainly like to have that information from the
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Maddie --
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: The other thing I
would point out, that many of my constituents were here
tonight as well who supported this who do not live
adjacent or anywheres near the proposed acquisition. And
also, this is something which was supported by all the
people in Washoe County in the bond issue. So I think
there is ample countywide support to go forward.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. We have a motion and a
second to approve. All in --
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Mr. Chairman --
MS. SHIPMAN: May I answer the procedural
question? I mean, I think he had a procedural question.
He wanted to know about the updating of the appraisal.
The resolution doesn't initiate the
condemnation. That would be done through proper
complaint and pleadings in court. And clearly, there
would be an update prior to any initiation in court of a
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: So it is not
necessary to include this specific in the motion. Okay.
Thank you, Counsel.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Okay. Commissioner Weber.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: I just have to say one
more thing, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Yes.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: Thank you for allowing
me to do that.
The people did support a bond issue. They
did want the Ballardini Ranch. But I think that the
people did not want condemnation. I don't think anybody
would want property to be lost. You wouldn't want your
property to be lost. I wouldn't want anyone's property
to be lost. So thank you.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Thank you, Commissioner
Again, we're voting on the motion. All in
favor, please signify by saying aye.
COMMISSIONER HUMKE: Aye.
COMMISSIONER GALLOWAY: Aye.
COMMISSIONER SFERRAZZA: Aye.
COMMISSIONER WEBER: I vote nay.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER WEBER: No.
CHAIRMAN SHAW: Motion carries four to one.
Let the record indicate that Commissioner Weber votes no.
(The meeting was adjourned at 6:32 p.m.)
STATE OF NEVADA )
COUNTY OF WASHOE )
I, STEPHANI L. LODER, do hereby affirm:
That I was present at the public hearing on
TUESDAY, the 27TH day of JULY, 2004, at the offices of
Washoe County Commission Chambers, 1001 East Ninth
Street, Reno, Nevada; that said hearing was taken in
stenotype notes by me and thereafter transcribed into
typewriting as herein appears; that the foregoing
transcript, consisting of pages 1 through 119, inclusive,
is a full, true, and correct transcription of my
stenotype notes of said meeting.
Dated this 2nd day of August, 2004.
STEPHANI L. LODER