Hopper makes residents hopping mad

VIRGINIA CITY -- Landowner Scott Jolcover's plans to put a 30-foot cement hopper on Virginia City's south side has some residents hopping mad.

"The plant will be readily seen and heard from our back yard and we believe that its presence will lower our property value," wrote Ginger and Virgil Brown in a letter to Storey County officials. "We feel it is totally out of place in an area that has become residential and is a national historic landmark."

"The town is very small and its economy based on tourist travel," said resident Karen Sinkola. "I have nothing personal against this man, but I think this kind of operation is inappropriate in a town like this."

About eight feet wide and 30 feet long, the apparatus would accept a sand-and-gravel mix, imported by truck. Sacked cement would be added to the hopper by hand and the material would travel up a belt and into a transit mixer truck. Water would be added, then mixed for delivery, according to the Storey County Planning Commission.

Jolcover applied for a special-use permit for the hopper April 15 and plans on using the apparatus for a number of projects in and around Virginia City. The cement hopper does not fall within the zoning for that area, thus the need for a special use permit.

"I understand that this is an emotionally charged issue, but this is a valid, legal use in an area that is zoned industrial," he said. "Dust and noise controls are in place and only one motor that drives a belt under the hopper. It's as quiet as any vehicle going down the streets and we'll be using just one truck to deliver the cement from F Street to C Street. As a property owner I also pay taxes and enjoy rights."

Jolcover said he owns more than 20 percent of Virginia City's vacant lots, in addition to the mining patents for the historic Savage, Chollar and Pottosi, and Hale and Norcross mines.

He is currently excavating around the LaVake home, a Victorian on the south end of C Street.

Roger Lavake said he and his wife, Squeek, have been eating dust for weeks, and a few days ago Jolcover's workers broke their water main. He said the damage has been repaired, but his water is still cloudy.

"He's changed our view and we have more wind and dust than you can believe," he said. "He's using a water truck to keep the dust down, but it doesn't help much. He and his people show no consideration for their neighbors and most of the public up here is unhappy about the cement plant."

Jolcover said he will leave the apparatus there after he completes his current project, a 1,500-square-foot residence just north of the LaVake's home. LaVake argues that setting up the equipment for one project is not cost-effective.

"I will keep the hopper there to make cement for my next project," Jolcover said. "I don't know what that will be, possibly footings for the Arizona mill."

A tall angular corrugated metal and beam structure, the Arizona Mill stands just south of an open theater, not far from the proposed site for the cement hopper.

Storey County's Planning Commission recommended approval of the equipment with stipulations a couple of weeks ago, according to Commission Chairman Doug Walling. The issue proceeded to Storey County commissioners, who did not believe enough residents had been polled.

The issue will be readdressed at the county commissioners' meeting July 2, according to Marilou Walling, administrative officer for Storey County.


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