Hundreds of Minden residents filed into the old CVIC Hall in Minden on Tuesday, a week after learning of a proposed multi-million dollar hotel-casino, bowling alley and RV park proposed at the entrance of town.
Several of those attendees who came to the three-hour open house, hosted by the project's developers, were residents of nearby Winhaven subdivision. Some said they are not pleased with the prospect of having a hotel and casino in their back yard.
"I'm not in favor of this. It will ruin the landscape of the area," said William Cunha, a Winhaven homeowner. "We were hoping this area would stay rural. We were led to believe when we bought the property it would stay this way."
The hotel-casino complex will undergo its first round of public hearings tonight at the Minden Town Board meeting. Minden and county officials will consider a zone change and master plan amendment.
The project, which needs commercial zoning, is located west of Winhaven, east of Highway 395, south of Muller Lane and north of Lucerne Drive.
The developers are seeking a zone change to tourist commercial, which will allow for gaming and an RV park.
However, the development may have a host of conditions put on it, once it gets into the hands of public officials.
Project developer Tom Bruce of Nevada Northwest LLC and Sands Regency president and chief executive Ferenc Szony have spent about a year designing the 115-acre project with architects and Anderson Engineering of Minden.
On the table is an European-designed hotel and casino complex, with a recreation center, bowling alley and RV park. The proposal combines a European village flavor with a recreation element the developers say fits Minden.
Others aren't quite so sure.
"I don't think it will ever look like the grandiose drawing they've got here today," said Jay Aldrich of Minden.
Winhaven resident Joyce Lancaster has formed a committee of residents to put pressure on the county's leaders, including the Minden Town Board, Douglas County planning commissioners, and the county commission itself.
"We cannot let this happen. It's bad for traffic. It's bad for the Valley," Lancaster said.
Herman Hartung, a Foothill Road resident, said the area doesn't need another casino.
"Is this a done deal? I think it is. That's why I don't even know why we are here," Hartung said. "I like what we have here. This (is a) nice small town. We already have two casinos. Why do we need a third?"
Rick Campbell, a Gardnerville resident and member of the Business Council of Douglas County, said he understands some concerns, but favors the project.
"There are two minuses and a lot more pluses," he said. "The minuses are traffic and offending the NIMBYs (not in my back yard) folks. The pluses are tax revenue, more jobs, arts and the beautification of the area. It will make the Valley so much more attractive to tourists."
Several business owners in Minden and Gardnerville say the casino would give the area a shot in the arm economically, drawing more tourism and dollars to the area.
"I love it," said Gunilla Edwards, of Gardnerville and branch manager of Allied Mortgage Capital, located across the street from the proposed development.
"To have a European village look and feel to it adds to the country-like quality we have here," Edwards said. "If people know about this, they will come."
"I think it's fine, because what else were they going to do with the property? It was going to be developed anyway. Better it be something nice like this than a bunch of gas stations and convenience stores," said Don Civis, a Winhaven resident.
Civis added that he hopes the county and Minden officials will hold make the developers conform to conditions.
"They need to make sure that if there is an economic downturn, that they won't allow the casino to let the property fall apart," Civis added.
Minden resident Curtis Siever said he also likes the proposal.
"From what I see here today, this is really nice," Siever said. "I hope what he's put on the table is what is being shown to us today."
Still, others say they moved to Minden because of its rural character. Winhaven resident Glenda Hale said if people want to gamble, they should go to Carson City or Reno.
"If we wanted to live in Reno, we would have moved to Reno," she said. "I didn't move here for razzle-dazzle and glitz."