by Susie Vasquez
Max Baer Jr. had no comment for The Record-Courier, following Tuesday's series of planning commission decisions concerning development of Jethro Bodine's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino.
"I don't feel comfortable with the treatment I've received from The Record-Courier and I have no desire to give (the paper) any further information," he said. "That's the way it is."
Baer said The Record-Courier has failed to publish many of the letters supporting his casino from around the country. That, coupled with the wording of Wednesday's Record-Courier headline, "Casino stumbles on oil derrick," resulted in his decision, Baer said.
"I know the press pretty well," he said. "Most people read the headlines and not much else."
Located between North Sunridge Drive and Topsy Lane in north Douglas County, the $120 million project includes a 40,000-square-foot gaming area, cinema complex, restaurants, spa facilities and 720 rooms, to be built in phases.
The seven-member planning commission considered seven variances for the project Tuesday and five of those were approved, including a zoning change, gaming overlay, special used permit, a reduction in the number of parking spaces and a reduction in the number of loading docks.
Variances for two 143-foot hotel towers and the 200-foot oil derrick and readerboard were denied. The current height allowance is set at 45 feet, according to county officials.
"We want to bring something special to Carson Valley," said project manager Don Smit. "We believe these variances essential to the success of the Beverly Hillbillies Casino. Take any component away from the fabric of this project and you're looking at failure."
The casino would be the only truly themed resort in northern Nevada and the Beverly Hillbillies brand would give the area national exposure, Smit said.
"What works for local casinos won't work for us," he said. "If you want a local casino you should reject this project. If you want us to provide an attraction with national appeal, you need an open mind."
Planning Commissioner Mike Olson said with the height of this derrick and tower, project officials are asking the Valley to suck up something Carson Valley has never had before.
"The Matterhorn (at Disneyland) is 140 feet," he said. "This is a quality project. I get calls both in favor and opposition, but we want something that will be a jewel, not a stain on our Valley."
Commissioner Margaret Pross said the variance conditions would apply to other properties in the same area if the 200-foot oil derrick is approved.
"When you look at that height, it isn't what we want," she said. "It will change the character of this valley forever."
"I'm for the project, but an oil derrick won't fit with the character of Douglas County," said Planning Commissioner Matt McKinney. "Anyone making reservations will know where it is."
The height is a minimum by most standards, said project spokesman Dr. Robert Miller.
"We've moved big buildings and changed sizes. We're in discussions with our neighbors and we're working with people," he said. "We promise big benefits and we're not going away."
The Planning Commission decisions were advisory. The decision will ultimately to be made by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners at a later date.
• Susie Vasquez can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.