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County planners approve use permit for tigers’ property owner

Roughly one month after a 60-day extension was granted by Fifth District Court Judge Kim Wanker, the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission voted to issue a conditional use permit to Ray the “Flagman” Mielzynski, property owner of a north-side facility housing 10 tigers.

The planning commission voted 4-3 in favor of the conditional use permit with special conditions, including a bladed access road to and from the property.

Member Vincent Clark said the additional special conditions forbid the public exhibition of the tigers and the facility must allow regular visits to the property by Nye County Animal Control officers to ensure the animals are healthy and secure.

“We obviously don’t want them getting out,” he said.

Chairman John Koenig, Vice Chairman Gregory T. Hafen II and member Joel Oscarson were the dissenters.

The decision can be appealed within 30 days to the Nye County Commission.

Following the meeting, Mielzynski said he was relieved the commission made what he believed was the proper decision.

He noted that “something magical” happened Thursday evening.

“We saved the tigers and it would have been a very crazy thing to have these tigers punished over something that was so minor and so petty,” he said. “I want to thank everybody on the RPC board that saw the light and realized this is not something that should have been acted on.”

Last month, Wanker denied a motion to reconsider a previous ruling, giving Karl and Kayla Mitchell, along with property owner Ray Mielzynski, until Nov.10 to remove the animals from the property located at 6016 Woodchips Road.

Mielzynski was able to get the item on the RPC’s agenda earlier this month.

He said the tiger issue has been an ongoing battle for several years after an anonymous complaint came before county commissioners, who previously approved the facility.

“When the commissioners approved this back in 2007, they made it complaint-driven, which means you can have the cats and other large animals as long as nobody complains, so you won’t need a conditional use permit,” he said. “There are four other big cat places here that do not have this conditional use permit because nobody complained about them.”

Additionally, Mielzynski said the issue should never have gone on as long as it did.

“It amazes me that it just kept going on and on because there could have been a resolution a long time ago,” he said. “I’ve been getting all kinds of positive reaction from just about everybody, even at the courthouse.”

Had the RPC not granted the conditional use permit, Mielzynski said he believes the issue would have negative repercussions for Nye County.

“For them to remove the tigers would have been horrible and the media was on to it,” he said. “If something happened to one or more of those tigers, the Cecil the Lion shooting would be nothing compared to this. The whole country would have been after Nye County. The RPC acted correctly by reinstating the conditional use permit.”

Though he’s grateful for the RPC’s ruling, Mielzynski is still taking a wait-and-see position.

“This should make the court case a moot issue but you never know if they will try to pull the rug out from under us some other way,” he said. “This is still hanging over our heads because we don’t know what the judge will do in January. I hope it will just go by the wayside.”

Had the RPC had not granted the conditional use permit, Mielzynski said he had an alternative plan.

“If we were voted down, we would have the opportunity to appeal to the county commissioners to override the Regional Planning Commission,” he said. “That’s why the commissioners literally got thousands of text messages, emails and recordings about saving the tigers.”

Mielzynski struck a humorous note during the meeting when he invoked a popular 80’s hit song by the group Abba.

“It may have had something to do with me threatening to sing the Abba song ‘Take a Chance on Me,'” he said with a laugh. “Maybe they figured they couldn’t stand the Flagman singing, so they decided to give me the permit and get me out of there. No one is upset that I can see. Not the district attorney, the judge or anybody in the district attorney’s office. They all seem positive and most of the attorneys that I have spoken to are simply amazed that it went on this far. Something magical happened on Thursday night.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @sharrispvt

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