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Reno Iron Works construction near SPCA animal shelter could resume


SPCA fails to raise enough to cover bond

The Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals of Northern Nevada was unable to fund a court-ordered bond in its dispute with Reno Iron Works. Reno Iron Works hopes to build a new factory next to the SPCA’s north Reno animal shelter, and a judge’s order last spring halted the project.

In July, District Court Judge Kathleen Sigurdson ordered the SPCA to pay a nearly $200,000 bond to cover any potential losses faced by Reno Iron Works as construction activity was put on hold. Sigurdson had reversed her own ruling as the dispute between the two parties unfolded, forcing Reno Iron Works to stop building its new factory.

SPCA Executive Director Jill Dobbs told Sigurdson in July the nonprofit did not have the money to cover the bond cost. This week, in court, SPCA officially relented after being unable to raise the necessary funds.

“SPCA-NN notes for the record that it does not concede that its failure to pay the substantial bond was anything other than a result of its failure to raise the necessary funds to be able to do so,” SPCA’s attorney, Luke Busby, wrote in a court document. “As discussed at length in the proceedings before the Court, SPCA-NN is a non-profit that is funded by the donations of its supporters. RIW’s casting this failure as ‘egregious,’ or as a failure to comply with a Court order … in essence playing the victim, is absurd.”

Reno Iron Works’ attorney, Bill Peterson, claimed the nonprofit’s 2021 tax filing with the federal government shows SPCA can afford the bond, something Dobbs disputed. Peterson requested Sigurdson’s April order to halt construction on the facility be lifted. Construction could soon resume.

“The fact that we are unable to pay the $197,000 bond to keep our stay in place is heartbreaking and beyond disappointing,” Dobbs said on the SPCA website. “Ultimately, we couldn’t raise enough money specifically for the bond amount and our general fund monies are already committed to other mission-centric purposes. 

The case is still being fought in the Nevada Supreme Court. Early in August, SPCA filed its appeal challenging the City of Reno’s project approval.

“Applicable law required the City to consider the potential impact of RIW’s Project on SPCA-NN and its animals based on the evidence, but they failed to do so,” SPCA argued. “RIW and the City of Reno acted as if SPCA-NN and its sensitive animal residents did not exist.”

The city argued that since the city council had a “significant discussion” on the issue, it adequately considered the matter. SPCA countered that the development’s impacts on the shelter and its animals be given greater consideration. Dobbs also said the city failed to provide SPCA with adequate notice the city’s planning commission was considering the project.

“If SPCA-NN wins its appeal, then our matter will be remanded back before the Reno City Council where they will have to face their mistakes along with Reno Iron Works,” Dobbs said. “We reasonably believe it is the City’s legal responsibility to require effective mitigations on the RIW project to protect SPCA-NN’s existing facility and the vulnerable animals we house and protect every day.”

Peterson said SPCA’s argument is based on “irrelevant criteria” and “speculative musings.”

Disclosure: SPCA is represented by attorney Luke Busby, who also represents This Is Reno in public records lawsuits.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.