Comstock Mining attempts to move into Silver City
Silver City residents filled the Lyon County Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 12—impressive for a town of about 170—to show their opposition to Comstock Mining Inc.’s application for a master plan amendment and zoning change. This would allow CMI to begin open pit mining in the town.
These residents came to the meeting because there was supposed to have been a decision made about the changes, but when it was time for CMI to present its case, CMI’s representative, Mark Rotter of Manhard Consulting, Ltd., asked for a continuance.
Silver City resident Gayle Sherman said that she believes CMI asked for a continuance because they were not happy with the 35-page staff report’s recommendation.
“Nothing changed,” she said. “Their application didn’t change. Their proposal for change in zoning didn’t substantially change from their August application. What happened is that they didn’t like … that the staff report recommended denial.”
Rotter said at the meeting that CMI was unprepared to respond to the staff report because it had been received late, and CMI exec Corrado De Gasperis said the same when asked why CMI wanted a continuance.
“Unfortunately, we received the staff report late on Friday evening of a three-day holiday weekend for a Tuesday a.m. Planning Commission,” De Gasperis said. “We were of the understanding we would receive the report at least a week in advance.”
The commission granted a 30-day continuance, and the issue will be discussed at the Dec. 10 Planning Commission Meeting in Yerington. In this interim, De Gasperis stated that CMI will be working on other projects and “working towards making the next Lyon Planning Commission meeting as efficient and effective as possible, insofar that it relates to our agenda item, despite the tardy staff report.”
Sherman is concerned that the interim could allow for the decision to be made outside of the public meetings, so the residents intend to keep speaking with officials between now and Dec. 10. The residents also have their own report to present.
“We’re really concerned as a community that this provides an open door for political manipulation on this particular issue,” Sherman said. “We want to fine tune the report and make sure we have everything that we absolutely need to have. We are working to maintain our solidarity and our community spirit by keeping people informed. We want to meet with some of the Lyon County officials to be assured that there is a level playing field.”
The residents’ report includes a legal argument, a planning analysis, a historical analysis and a real estate analysis. The legal argument and planning analysis look at past decisions made in the area and how planning has worked over time. Each time Silver City has faced a decision like this in the past, they have ruled in favor of the residents’ opinion. They included a historic analysis because the areas in which CMI wishes to mine and already has mines are part of the Virginia City Historic District and the Comstock Historic District. The real estate portion of the report is one of the most troublesome to the residents because it will affect them most directly.