VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. Feb. 18, 2013 - The Senior Planner for Storey County announced at a recent County Commissioners meeting that, despite a so called "Gentleman's Agreement" to limit the negative impacts of open pit, or 'strip', mining in the National Historic Landmark, Comstock Mining Inc. (CMI) intended to begin soon running heavy ore-hauling trucks through neighborhoods along Hwy 342 until midnight. Those trucks began hauling ore this past President's Day weekend, in darkness on the narrow two-lane highway, leading residents to believe that they could be subjected to this industrial travesty 7 days a week for the foreseeable future.
At a public hearing in July 2012, the Storey County Planner and CMI CEO stated that they had entered into a "gentleman's agreement" regarding the numbers of trucks, the where, how and when, and the conditions under which they would be used. This "gentleman's agreement" was supposed to limit CMI's use of the highway to daylight hours and to protect of the health and safety of visitors to Historic Landmark, the residents and the neighborhoods.
Since the so called 'agreement' was entered into last summer, over the uproar of residents who came out in force to object and share their indignation with the county officials who'd allowed CMI to contravene the Special Use Permit (SUP), the company has also ignored other aspects such as promises to cover their truck loads, keep the highway free of debris, and not run in wet weather, all of which now create negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. (See resident video at http://youtu.be/pTCv6UMZ1cA).
When CMI was issued an order from the BLM to cease and desist hauling ore over public lands last summer, the company reacted by complaining to county officials, demanding to use a route specifically prohibited by the existing SUP, Hwy 342, the only thoroughfare through Nevada's historic Comstock communities,. Storey County decided that, rather than amend the SUP in respect of the process, they would simply deny their legal authority to protect citizens, claim they had no jurisdiction to regulate heavy industrial traffic, and inform CMI that there are no enforceable conditions in the SUP, all in the name of supposed economic benefits. The Comstock Residents Association (CRA) filed suit.
Long-time resident and Comstock historian, Larry Wahrenbrock, reacted to the news of these expanded haul hours by saying, "In my world, a gentleman is honorable and keeps his word. Apparently, in Storey County, a 'gentleman' can break his word without consequence, a 'gentleman' will accept an excuse from another for breaking his word without questioning the reasons, and a 'gentleman' will allow another to dupe him again and again. Where are the gentlemen?"
Joe McCarthy, spokesperson for the CRA adds, "This action justifies our pursuit of legal remedies to force the county to live up to its responsibilities. CMI is ravaging the landscape and history of the Comstock. We continue to be baffled that this company is not required to live up to its word"
The Comstock Residents Association is a community focused public interest group representing the residents of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and Dayton, with a common interest in preserving the integrity and sustainability of the Virginia City National Historic Landmark and the quality of life in the Comstock communities it embraces.
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