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Storey County passes resolution against Innovation Zones


By SAM METZ AP/Report for America

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The rural Nevada county where a blockchain technology firm wants to form a jurisdiction with governmental powers passed a resolution against ceding control over local decision-making but left the door open to working with the company on its bid to build a futuristic smart city in the desert.

Storey County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to “oppose separatist governing control” and the carving up of the county — in what is the first official statement the commission has made since Gov. Steve Sisolak proposed creating “Innovation Zones” that he said could make Nevada an epicenter for emerging technology companies.

Blockchains LLC is lobbying Sisolak and the Legislature to let tech companies that promise $1.25 billion in investment to create zones on the land they own. These so-called “Innovation Zones” would have power over law enforcement, taxation and land management decisions and initially be governed by a board with two members from the company itself.

Blockchains argues its plans to build a city 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Reno that runs on blockchain technology and empower inventors to design new applications using blockchain would be unduly constrained by traditional local government mechanisms.

Blockchain is a digital ledger known primarily for recording cryptocurrency transactions, but also used to securely log other records and contracts by companies and governments.

The company plans to build up to 15,000 units in a region called Painted Rock, which the county’s 2016 master plan currently only zones for 3,500 homes. The county informally told the company two years ago that it wasn’t interested in re-zoning the 3,230-acre (13 sq. kilometer) region.

Sisolak convened a roundtable to discuss Innovation Zones and how a potential cryptocurrency transaction tax could benefit Nevada on Friday, but no bill has been formally introduced in the Legislature.

Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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