Empire Ranch issue headed to Board of Supervisors

A request that city government purchase Empire Ranch Golf Course so it can take treated wastewater effluent will go to the Carson City Board of Supervisors soon due to delinquent property taxes.

Public Works Director Darren Schulz said Treasurer Al Kramer had asked him to submit such a request should the back taxes not be paid.

Empire Ranch Golf Course LLC owes about $185,000, said owner Dwight Millard, who added that he wasn’t surprised at the move. He characterized it as routine under the circumstances.

“The city has to do something,” he said. “It’s standard. I know it’s coming.”

He had said earlier, after a neighborhood meeting at the golf course clubhouse arranged by Supervisor Brad Bonkowski to address resident concerns, that the city’s options included letting the property be auctioned publicly for the back taxes or this.

In a letter to the board, Schulz said a purchase would be “for the use of the Wastewater Treatment Enterprise Fund” and is authorized under state law.

“The Empire Ranch Golf Course would serve a public purpose for the Carson City Wastewater Enterprise Fund for disposal of treated effluent and therefore I request that the city acquire this property for the delinquent taxes,” Schulz wrote. Treated effluent goes to water the course in part because federal requirements say it cannot be discharged into the Carson River.

Schulz also said a paragraph in the state law he cited indicates that “if used for sewer or drainage uses, the delinquent taxes do not have to be paid.”

Residents around the 27-hole course and clubhouse have repeatedly expressed concern about what the city or a new owner would do with it. A February memorandum issued by the city’s Community Development Department noted it is zoned for agriculture uses, and the golf course was approved in 1994 by a special-use permit. That and other aspects likely would inhibit attempts to develop it for housing.

“The maximum permitted residential density in the Agriculture zoning district is one dwelling per 20 acres should the golf course close and cease operation for any reason,” according to the document.

“In addition to zoning restrictions on the property,” it says, “potential development on a significant portion of the property is constrained by floodplain and floodway designations.”

It also noted there are wetlands on the course subject to requirements of the Army Corps of Engineers, so any modifications would be subject to corps approval and applicable permits.

The issue may well come before the city’s governing board at the April 3 meeting, though as Millard said, this marks just the first official step.


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