Letter to the Editor

April 27, 2005

Reno Gazette Journal
P. O. Box 22000
Reno, NV 89520

Attention: Steve Falcone, Opinion Editor

Senate Bill 326, presently before our Legislature, has damaging consequences for those who value open space or wildlife preservation.

SB326 prohibits any political subdivision from using eminent domain to preserve open space or wildlife habitat. While SB326 would allow taking of homes and businesses, open space and wildlife are on a different value scale for supporters of the bill. To Nevadans, open space and wildlife are among our highest values.

Although always a last resort, eminent domain sometimes is the only option available to acquire property for the public good, and in such instances owners are paid the full value of the property, as determined by a court or jury.

If SB326 had been in effect, the Reno Ski Bowl could not have been built in the 1950’s. It became the Slide Mountain Ski Area that is now a major part of the Mt. Rose Ski Area. The combined areas now generate much national and international business. If eminent domain were not used, this extraordinary community benefit would have been lost forever.

The restoration of the V&T Railroad would be impossible without our existing eminent domain laws. Ninety-four parcels were acquired in the first 1.4-mile segment through negotiation or donation, but, to restore the V&T, one holdout parcel had to be acquired by eminent domain. The original route of the world famous V&T railroad looks like it did in the 1870’s. When it is restored, our goal is to maintain the historical open space feeling for the hordes of tourists it will bring to our area. SB326 would stop this effort!

SB326 was introduced by one lone Clark County Senator who opposes eminent domain to acquire the Ballardini Ranch and who wants substitute his legislation for the judicial process. The Senator claims the Ballardini effort is for the wealthy, but those who actually reside here know it has always enjoyed the broadest range of public support, as I can personally attest from my years in public office dealing with this issue. It is an unparalleled opportunity for our children, from all segments of our population, to see a working ranch, to camp and enjoy the rural outdoors, to view and learn about our wildlife, to hike and to ride bikes and horses. This would be a tragic loss to all our citizens and to future Nevada generations.

We lost many deer along US80 and 4th Street this winter, but imagine how many more would have been slaughtered on McCarran if the pristine 1019-acre Ballardini Ranch, which provides essential deer habitat, were paved and subdivided to the maximum.

These are just examples. The sad fact is that SB326 would prevent these kinds of opportunities for all Nevadans throughout this state in perpetuity.

I urge our Legislators to recognize the drastic and draconian consequences of SB326 and to soundly defeat this bill. Please do not make this a windfall for an out-of-state developer whose only desire admittedly is to make money off this precious land. Please do not deny to our children the use and educational benefits of the Ballardini Ranch that are unique to this area, or the others similar opportunities for our children throughout this state.

Ted Short

Trustee, Railroad Commission
Northern Nevada
Former Washoe County Commissioner
13855 Virginia Foothills Dr.
Reno, NV 89521



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