UICN files lawsuit against county

Utilities, Inc. of Central Nevada has filed a lawsuit in the Fifth Judicial District Court of Nevada against Nye County and the Board of County Commissioners, contending that the recent vote on the rapid infiltration basins wasn’t properly completed.

In the March 30 lawsuit, UICN alleged commissioners’ actions at the March 15 meeting had violated the Nevada Open Meeting Law when they reversed the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission decision on the utility’s conditional use permit.

Pahrump resident Kenny Bent had appealed to Nye County commissioners that a conditional use permit granted to by the RPC. Public comment stretched for more than one hour at the March 15 meeting, where many residents spoke about their concerns.

The lawsuit however said that commissioners “lacked substantial evidence” in reversing the RPC’s decision on Utilities Inc.’s conditional use permit.

Utilities Inc.’s plan to remediate Discovery Park included installation of two rapid infiltration basins, otherwise known as RIBs, at two existing effluent ponds. This plan was approved by the planning commission in January.

“Mr. Bent made no effort to describe how the RPC’s decision impacted him and there is no record of evidence from the hearing about how the RPC’s approval of UICN’s CUP impacts Mr. Bent personally or impacts property he owns,” the lawsuit stated.

Commissioner Dan Schinhofen made a motion to approve the RPC’s decision on UICN’s CUP. After the motion failed because of the 3-to-2 vote, commissioner Butch Borasky made a motion to deny the approval without prejudice. The motion passed, however the lawsuit stated that the vote on that motion “was not properly completed.”

Following the lunch break when most of the audience had left, Nye County commissioners sought to clarify their intention after District Attorney Angela Bello had questioned whether it was clear what action commissioners wanted to take on Bent’s appeal.

The board’s actions to “clarify” its action on Bent’s appeal do not constitute a vote as required by the NRS, according to the lawsuit.

“Even if that clarification did constitute a vote, however, the clarification is void for having been held after the hearing on Mr. Bent’s appeal had been closed and without notice,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit stated that Nevada Revised Statute 241.036 provides that any action taken in violation of the Nevada Open Meeting Law is void.

“Thus, even if the BOCC’s attempt to ‘clarify’ its action on Mr. Bent’s appeal constituted a vote, that action would be void for failing to have complied with the Nevada Open Meeting Law,” the lawsuit said.

On March 22, Utilities Inc. was informed of the county commission’s decision on Bent’s appeal by copy of a letter sent to Bent. The letter states that, “after closing the hearing, the board elected to deny the RPC’s decision to approve” UICN’s CUP.

The BOCC is required to render a decision on any appeal within 60 days. More than 60 days have now passed since Bent’s appeal, according to the lawsuit.

“The decision of the RPC on UICN’s CUP application thus stands and cannot be further reviewed,” the lawsuit states.

Wendy Barnett, UICN president, declined to comment on the case, citing open litigation.