Storey County Commission Postpones Vote on Mining Trucks
Some Storey County residents are voicing their disagreement with a special use permit that allows Comstock mining company to drive its trucks on part of State Route 342, just outside of Virginia City. On Tuesday, the Storey County Commission met and decided not to rule officially on the permit, but they did agree to allow the trucks to start moving ore on a mile-long stretch of the highway.
Storey County Manager Pat Whitten says it comes down to who has the authority to say yes or no.
"The NDOT representative, had he been allowed to speak, had the issue been on the agenda, I think he would have told us, as we've been told by many representatives of the Department of Transportation that on state highway they own them, they're responsible for them and that particular condition is unenforceable," said Whitten after the meeting.
Whitten has advised Comstock Mining to go ahead and use the trucks to move ore from its mine outside Virginia City, to its processing plant. Some citizens aren't happy with the decision, no matter who made it. The trucks will pull a single trailer that Comstock Mining representatives say, will weigh 28 tons when full.
According to Whitten, the disagreement is over language in a special use permit that was put into effect in 2004. Corrado DeGasperis, President and CEO of Comstock Mining, says the wording doesn't apply to the trucks they're using.
"One of the confusions was that the original permit talks about prohibiting haulage on the state route," said DeGasperis, "and that was in the context of using the big yellow Caterpillar haul trucks. We never intended to, and never would and never thought of doing that."
The trucks would use just over a mile of State Route 342 between the hours of 9am and 7pm, five days a week. Residents who are against the plan say they'll continue to fight it. Joe McCarthy is a board member of The Comstock Residents Association. He says they would have liked to see the company do a traffic study in the area.
"We're talking about a truck every two minutes, a large truck every two minutes," McCarthy said. "We're talking about them having to make wide turns, up into areas that are very narrow canyons so it could be a dangerous situation for all of us who use the road on a regular basis."
The planning commission ruled three-to-two last month to approve the special permit. But Storey County commissioners won't take that up until their next meeting. They told us they want to see the official minutes from the planning commission meeting before voting on the issue.
Comstock Mining says the Nevada Department of Transportation has given them permission to use the highway, and Tuesday the company held a safety meeting with its drivers to brief them on the route. The company president says trucks similar to the vehicles they'll be using to move the ore are already in use on the state highway.
"The county uses them all the time," said DeGasperis. "We've used them, our contractors use them and so it was someone using the language from the original permit and saying thou shalt not do something that everyone has the right to do."
McCarthy says citizens with his group will keep up the fight against the trucks.
"We're going to continue to demand that our rights be recognized by, not only our local and state governments, but our federal government," he said. "We're going to broadcast that out to everybody who cares about the birthplace of the state of Nevada."
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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