Members of the Mina Town Advisory Council met with Mineral County Commissioners to discuss options of allowing Mina and Luning residents to create their own planning and zoning commission on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
After voters of Mineral County cast their votes on Nov. 4, it was obvious that those in Mina and Luning were ready for a change. Precinct 8 (Luning) voted 89.47 percent in favor of repealing county question 2, the nuisance ordinance whereas 70.59 percent of those in Precinct 9 (Mina) were also in favor.
Glen Inlow, spokesman for those in favor of repealing the nuisance ordinance, told the commissioners that residents within the communities are ready to do it [remove themselves from the county enforced building codes].
Commissioner Jerrie Tipton was adamant that she was not in favor of those in the southern end of Mineral County to be allowed to create their own district.
“We have a Mineral County Regional Planning Commission that covers all of Mineral County. In the last three years we’ve had four vacancies. I don’t see putting another layer of government in place. Then every community will want to do it,” Tipton explained to those in attendance of the meeting.
Countering Tipton’s objections, Inlow stated, “You are barking up the wrong tree. You don’t have to do it. We don’t have to have one. The law can form as many districts as can be.”
Stating both their positions, Commissioner Cliff Cichowlaz would explain that he is in favor of allowing Mina and Luning to be removed from the current ordinance.
“I am in favor of it. I was on the Planning Commission for 20 years. The representation in Mina/Luning is about old homes and mobile homes. We tried to do a one size fits all. I would like to see this to allow more give and take to the outliers,” Cichowlaz stated.
Cichowlaz would go on to say that he is in favor, but unsure of how to accomplish setting up a different district for Mina and Luning.
Though Inlow informed Cichowlaz, “Regulate each district to that district’s needs.” Tipton would go onto to counter Inlow by stating, “This board doesn’t need any more BS than it already has. If they [Mina and Luning] have issues and desires, they can bring it to the board. “
On the minds of many, was the safety and well-being of those in the communities that voted for the repeal of the ordinance. If repealed, would the safety of those be compromised by the building of unsafe structures that could place people in harm’s way?
“We need some freedom,” Inlow told the board.
“What is the county doing to restrict your freedom?” Cichowlaz questioned Inlow.
“Right now, my porch is falling down and needs replaced. I have a track frame. I don’t have to buy anything but it doesn’t fit code […] we need the freedom to bring our values up.”
Bonnie DeMars, speaking as a Mineral County citizens stated, “People in Hawthorne would like to do the same thing. That is part of the building permit process.”
Unwilling to make a quick decision, Commissioner Paul MacBeth would state that he would like to hear from the Mineral County Regional Planning Commission.
“Establishing a planning/zoning district is one thing. Eliminating building permits and safety/social responsibility is another thing. I have no problem with a Mina/Luning group. But our goal is social responsibility that safety is there. How you do it is another issue. Our goal in mind is still safety.” Cichowlaz stated.
Larry Grant, a member of the Mineral County Regional Planning Commission but not representing the board at the time of the meeting, asked, “As a planning commission, we bring things in front of the board of county commissioners. The new board would still have to come in front of the board. I am confused as to why if one say no – why wouldn’t the other [board] say no?”
Inlow would counter Grant by stating, “[It is for the] majority of the people.”
“We inherited it [the ordinances] and we live with it and do the best we can.” Tipton would tell the audience.
In an email from Inlow, he discussed the importance of his fight, “As I already stated it is not important to Mina and Luning to create their own planning district. That is merely the worst of the two options available to eliminate us from the County enforced building codes and that is what we fully intend to do by whatever lawful means is necessary to accomplish. As far as our communities separating from the county enforced building codes, in my opinion, it is just as important for the entire county to separate from the county enforced building codes. I am merely willing to back off and allow the rest of the county to fight their own battles ‘if’ the commissioners are willing to allow Mina/Luning [to] separate without a battle If they are not, we will take it county wide to repeal the existing building code ordinance.”
Amid the pressure to repeal the nuisance ordinance, it seems that until more research is completed, the ordinance will not be scratched from the books for citizens in Mina and Luning.