Stop SB326

Ted Short is a former Washoe County commissioner and a trustee for the Northern Nevada Railroad Commission.

There is a potentially damaging bill being considered now by the Nevada Legislature in Carson City. Any Nevadan who values open space or wildlife preservation should be concerned.

Senate Bill No. 326, among other provisions, would prohibit any political subdivision (state, county, city or any other entity) from using the right of eminent domain to acquire property to preserve open space for the public or to protect or preserve wildlife habitat.

In our rapidly growing state, eminent domain sometimes is the only option available to acquire key property for the public good, but owners are always paid the full appraised price, or in case of a disagreement, a jury will determine the correct value.

If there were no right of eminent domain, the Reno Ski Bowl could not have been built in the 1950s. This became Slide Mountain Ski area, which is now a major part of the Mt. Rose Ski area. With their recent expansion on the Slide side of the mountain, the ski area is generating much national and international recognition and business as an outstanding ski area.

The restoration of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad would have been impossible without our existing eminent domain laws. Ninety-four separate parcels were acquired in the first 1.4 mile segment through negotiation, appraisal or donation. One hold-out parcel had to be acquired by the Nevada Commission to restore the V&T by the existing eminent domain process.

Senate Bill 326 was initially written to take effect July 1, 2005, but an amendment has been introduced, at the urging of one lone Clark County senator, to make this law retroactive to any ongoing eminent domain process. This would include Washoe County’s effort to acquire the Ballardini Ranch, for which the voters have already approved a $4 million open-space bond issue.

We all read with sadness the number of deer killed along Interstate 80 and Fourth Street this winter. Imagine how many more would have been slaughtered on McCarran Boulevard if the pristine 1,037 acres of the Ballardini Ranch was paved and subdivided to the maximum. This always has been the winter range for the Mt. Rose wilderness area deer herd.

I urge our representatives in Carson City to thoroughly examine the drastic and draconian consequences of Senate Bill No. 326. Please do not make this a windfall for an out-of-state developer.

Senate Bill 326 passed the Senate on April 25. To help stop this damaging bill from becoming law, call or e-mail your representative in the Nevada Assembly. To locate your assemblymember, go to mapserve.leg.state. viewer.htm. For contact information, go to 73rd/Legislators/Assembly/alist.cfm.