weather icon Clear

‘The Flagman’ gets notice to evict Mitchell

Ray “The Flagman” Mielzynski was issued a cease and desist letter by Nye County code compliance ordering his tenant, Karl Mitchell, to move his tigers off his property. Mielzynski claims the notice isn’t legally valid.

“It’s not signed by anybody but code compliance and it’s not valid. They have to have a judge sign a cease and desist, they can’t just have anybody sign it,” Mielzynski said.

Mitchell has housed his seven tigers and a liger — a cross between a tiger and a lion — at the Flagman’s 20-acre parcel at 6061 N. Woodchips for three years.

Mitchell’s permit case has dragged on for a year.

In June 2012, the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission deadlocked 3-3 on whether to grant Mitchell a conditional use permit. When they revoted to break the tie in August 2012, the RPC voted 4-1 against the CUP.

In October 2012, the Board of County Commissioners overturned the RPC decision and approved the permit.

But in February, the RPC revoked Mitchell’s permit, on the grounds he was improperly exhibiting the animals in violation of his U.S. Department of Agriculture permit. This time, the Board of County Commissioners in April, narrowly upheld the RPC revocation upon Mitchell’s appeal, by a 3-2 vote, exhausting his administrative appeals.

Mielzynski said he’s been renting the space to Mitchell as a courtesy, a place to house his tigers, for which he doesn’t receive any rent.

“I’m going to run for sheriff again next year. I don’t need any citations from code compliance and now I’m under the gun. It seems like no good deed goes unpunished,” Mielzynski said.

He said a lot of celebrities have visited Mitchell’s sanctuary, a positive thing for the Pahrump Valley.

Darrell Lacy, head of the Nye County code compliance office, said Mielzynski was served with a 14-day notice on May 29, which comes due this week.

But The Flagman gave a conflicting account of what happened.

“They gave me 24 hours to move the tigers off, but I went to the DA’s office, they said there’s no real hurry. What am I going to do in 24 hours? What am I going to do with the tigers, put them in the back of the pickup and haul them off to Siegfried and Roy?” Mielzynski asked. “I talked to the DA’s office, they said it’s too quick. They’ll talk to code compliance and get them to back off a little bit.”

Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi disagreed with Mielzynski’s legal analysis about the ability of code compliance to sign off on the cease and desist order.

“Whatever would be issued by code compliance would be absolutely appropriate because it tells the owner he is in violation of code compliance. If the problem is not corrected in a number of days, legal action could be brought which could include criminal charges. It actually is a misdemeanor to ignore code compliance,” Kunzi said.

Mitchell said he plans to file suit against Nye County in federal court for harassment, civil rights violations and equal protection, since other exotic animal owners in Pahrump don’t require conditional use permits.

“He believes it’s arbitrary and capricious because there’s all these people, some with or without conditional use permits and they operate with no hoops,” Mielzynski said. “If it’s a federal lawsuit, he’ll get an injunction to get them to stop harassing him and me.”

Other owners were grandfathered into existing regulations, that is, they owned the animals before the code was changed.

“That certainly is within his rights to try to do that. We can’t stop that. It’s a real simple matter. He was given conditions of his conditional use permit. He violated those conditions set by the Regional Planning Commission. Karl appealed it to the Board of County Commission,” Kunzi said of the lawsuit threat. “His conditional use permit has been revoked. This really is not complicated. So he has no right to have animals housed on that property. So it really is quite simple. There’s nothing complicated about it.”

Mitchell said his compound qualifies as an animal sanctuary which is exempt through county and state laws.

“There are no plans for us to make any moves, despite a cease and desist by code enforcement. We maintain that code enforcement does not have authority to issue cease and desist, a judge issues that. Code enforcement is just trying to be a bully,” Mitchell said.

“The bottom line is that there’s been no order by a judge telling us we have to do anything. So we won’t be doing anything, responding to anything. There has to be a hearing by a judge and there hasn’t been one,” he said. “I have a right to peace of mind and the animals have a right to peace of mind.”

But according to the DA, that hearing in front of a judge will indeed come if Mielzynski and Mitchell don’t honor the code compliance order.

Mitchell’s tigers were removed once before, in 2005, while he was in prison, and taken to an animal sanctuary in Texas.

Mitchell said everything is status quo, his animals are all fine, safe and healthy. He added the Endangered Species Act prohibits government from any detrimental actions that would harm or remove an endangered species.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Nevada Highway Patrol receives $100k public safety grant

By putting in additional efforts to combat drunk and distracted drivers along Silver State roadways, the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol Division has received a grant in the amount of $100,000 from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety for targeted DUI enforcement campaigns during the coming year.

Fire restrictions lifted at Humboldt-Toiyabe

The ban and other restrictions, which previously applied only to federal lands such as the Humbldt-Toiyabe National Forest, have been expanded to all public lands in Nevada.

FDA pushes for reduction in salt in packaged foods, restaurants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released guidance on Wednesday in an effort to reduce the amount of salt in food products at restaurants, school cafeterias and packaged and prepared foods. Food makers, however, are not obligated to take action in the voluntary guidance.

Social Security benefits to rise 5.9% in 2022

The Social Security Administration announced a cost-of-living raise of 5.9% starting in 2022, the largest annual increase in 40 years. The rise, however, comes in the face of other increases in food, shelter and other goods.

Solar project discussion riles Pahrump citizens

The Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee had what may very well have been the biggest turnout the advisory body has ever seen before during its Tuesday, Oct. 12 meeting.

Pumpkin Days returns to Pahrump next weekend

Fall is in the air and for the town of Pahrump, that means it’s almost time for Pumpkin Days.

Adam Laxalt stumps in Pahrump

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt made a stop in the valley last week, spending some time at local eatery Mom’s Diner to speak with area residents as he ramps up his campaign for the 2022 election.

Pahrump local’s Kids Costume Car Wash a success

Pahrump resident Shauna “Shay” Dragna and her three youngsters, Cayleigh, Caden and Conner, have spent the last month focusing on their very first public philanthropy project and though they entered into the endeavor without any previous experience and absolutely no idea how it might turn out, the results of their efforts are bearing some very positive fruit.

Cegavske won’t allow tax petitions off 2022 ballot

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has told Attorney General Aaron Ford in a letter the state constitution doesn’t allow for petitions to be withdrawn.