RPC favors permit for Last Chance trailhead

A conditional use permit for a five-acre trailhead at 3761 N. Stephanie St. for equestrian and hiking access to trails near the Last Chance Range, was approved by a 5-2 vote of the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission Wednesday.

RPC members Bob King and Vincent Clark voted against the motion.

County Planner Cheryl Beeman said Planning Director Darrell Lacy granted an exemption from a requirement to present conceptual use plans. A sketch of the trailhead outlines a parking area, information kiosk, hitching post and restrooms.

The property was forfeited to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office in 2000 after a trailer that is to be removed from the property was used as a methamphetamine drug lab, Beeman said. The firm Ninyo and Moore did an environmental analysis of the building, using money from the Nye County Brownfields Grant program, she said.

“It was determined no further cleanup was necessary based upon the laboratory analysis,” Beeman said.

But RPC members like Bill Dolan and Clark were still concerned there could be contamination of the soil or water.

“I don’t want to see animals getting sick, I don’t want to see human beings getting sick from this,” Dolan, the town board representative on the RPC, said. He wanted a condition that prior to the town acquiring or leasing the property there’s a determination either the town or county will do the cleanup.

Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Board Chairman Bob Adams, who has been working on the project for seven years, said the property was chosen because negotiations with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for a recreation and public purpose lease for trailheads to a proposed Last Chance Park elsewhere have dragged on so long. He said the trailhead may actually increase the property value of the adjacent properties.

But neighboring property owner Mike Norton said he was 100 percent opposed to the park.

“I support equestrian rights and have no problem sharing the trails with all off-road transports, be it a horse or an ATV. I use this area often and treat all users with respect. I don’t understand why we need to change the rural feeling of this area to access trails that are already available and can be used right now without this proposed park. I bought property in this rural area by choice. It is a quiet area and this park will affect my quality of life by adding the noise and traffic of horse trailers and related activities to a very rural area. If a car goes down my street it is an event,” Norton told planning commissioners.

He said the property doesn’t access BLM trails, there is a privately-owned 149-acre plot between the proposed trailhead and the trails. He said that will mean horse riders will have to travel up Stephanie Street riding in front of residents’ homes, adding noise and dust.

“There has already been great expense spent by the county on studies and proposals, all for nothing in return and more expense will be involved just to clean up the area with removal of a drug lab trailer with lead-based paint and asbestos insulation that won’t be cheap to clean up,” Norton said.

He said if the property is for sale there should be a public auction and total expenses for the park should be made public before a vote takes place.

“This is a very viable site for a horse property,” resident Deborah Strickland countered, the organizer of the Pony Express reenactment during the Pahrump Fall Festival. “We’ve been riding out there for years. A trailhead facilitates an area to gather to ride out, it’s not somewhere you whoop and holler and cause problems.”

Dolan said the Pahrump Town Board Tuesday authorized town staff to enter into talks with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and district attorney’s office about the property.

Goode said he objected because it will require personnel to maintain the property.

The Town of Pahrump had originally submitted an application to the BLM for the creation of a Last Chance Park trailhead on 10 acres at Bell Vista Avenue and Bannavitch Street, but an environmental analysis for the desert tortoise and other endangered species was never performed. It would’ve le++d to 1,500 to 2,000 trails for outdoor enthusiasts. Last April, Adams told the town board the town had invested $35,000 into the project and the BLM $12,000. The county then suggested the forfeited property on Stephanie Street.

The town received designs in March 2010 for Last Chance Park through the National Parks Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Resident Noel Smithers first conceived of the idea in 2007.

Sharon and Courtney Oster wrote a letter of opposition Sept. 7 complaining about increased noise and dust from motorized vehicles. The Osters questioned the maintenance, they said the Pahrump Parks and Recreation Advisory Board talked about having a volunteer group to manage the trailhead.