Robert Clark: Don’t step in a cow pie

First I should apologize. I realize that you may be reading your paper, enjoying your breakfast, or having a cup of coffee while you read. Thinking about a cow pie is not something you want to do. I am truly sorry. I wouldn’t bring it up if it was very important.

Whether you call it a cow pie, meadow muffin, or some other term you probably know that what it refers to is what cows leave all over fields. When a cow has to go it goes.

Now, what you may not know is that as this nasty mess sits there in the sun it tends to bake an outer crust. It may not smell like it initially did, but beneath this crust lies, well let’s just say it is still a danger. I learned this as a child visiting an uncle’s farm. Like kids do I didn’t just step, I jumped. I ended up to my ankles in the lesson I wish to pass on to you.

As you may know, and as your Realtor certainly knows, by law you are required to disclose to any potential buyer anything and everything you are aware of that may have a pending negative impact on the property’s value. Failure to do exposes you to considerable financial risk.

I believe the potential that the Idaho-Maryland Mine could reopen is our cow pie. Before you turn the page assuming this is another pro or con article about the mine, it isn’t. Supporters point to things like possible jobs. Who cannot support more jobs? Opponents point to the potential negative impacts on noise, air, traffic and property values. Who can want any of that?

No, this is simply offered as a heads up to all my neighbors and residents of our beautiful area as to a very serious risk that all of us could face. Many of our local Realtors have agreed that the mine reopening could have a negative impact on property values. They are the ones who should know best. I don’t know how much it might impact them or if it will at all, but some estimates are breathtaking.

For the purpose of this commentary, it doesn’t matter. This is simply to make sure you know that if you put your home or property on the market, you must protect yourself from financial liability by fully disclosing that the reopening is even a possibility.

Don’t say I don’t live over the mine, so it won’t impact my property. You do not know. The fact is that some of our Realtors think otherwise. They can even cite current cases where families who were considering moving to anyplace in Grass Valley have decided not to do so when they learned of the possibility. You have to disclose it.

Yes, it could negatively impact a sale. Doesn’t matter. This warning goes further. Even if you have disclosed this possibility, you need to take care not to say anything that might make them decide that the odds of it happening are very low. If you do, you may have avoided one cow pie and stepped into another.

If the mine does reopen and it impacts the property value at all, you can be liable for that decline, possibly for more because it might impact their quality of life as well. I unfortunately don’t have a solution. The only solution would be for the county and city to deny Rise Gold’s application and refuse to issue the permits and zoning changes necessary.

Opponents have asked the county to do an economic study to identify the pluses and minuses. They say it is “not required.” If the mine reopens and property values do decline, those suffering loses will undoubtedly sue to recover their loses. The county, the city, nor Rise Gold can afford the millions of dollars that would result.

If the reopening resulted in 1,000 jobs, these losses will still have to be mitigated to individual property owners. The county may have had to consider the application after it was filed. It doesn’t mean that when it becomes obvious that it is not in the best interest of residents, property owners and voters, they shouldn’t act responsibly and stop it, now.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see a cow pie. Protect your own liability and pray the county doesn’t step in it for you.

Robert Clark lives in Grass Valley.

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