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
If SB326 had been in effect, the Reno Ski Bowl could not have been built
in the 1950s. 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 1870s. 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
Former Washoe County Commissioner
13855 Virginia Foothills Dr.
Reno, NV 89521