After a heated debate, Douglas County's Board of Commissioners approved plans for Minden Gateway Center late Thursday.
The approval came over the objections of Minden Townhomes residents, who said they don't want the additional traffic or a three-story hotel in their back yards.
"We are about to become an isolated residential subdivision," said Nancy Kam, spokeswoman for Minden Townhomes.
Sandwiched between other commercial developments, the small neighborhood of two-story townhomes will be just east of the proposed 13.3-acre development, located at the junction of highways 395 and 88.
Kam charged the hotel's location just west of their homes does not meet the criteria of the county's design code, which stipulates developments should complement rather than dominate their surroundings.
New developments should protect neighborhoods and scenic views as well as prevent unsightly, disturbing impacts, but those criteria ignored by county staff and officials, she said.
"The county has the right to regulate and restrict under Nevada law," Kam said. "We're asking them to require developers to relocate the hotel and build a more compatible structure in compliance with codes."
The project received extensive scrutiny in past months and moving the hotel now would make the project nonviable. Developers have an agreement with an international hotel chain for the site and overall, the project is solid, said Minden Gateway spokesman Dave Wasick.
The hotel is angled away from the townhomes and windows on the east side are angled to allow more privacy for townhome residents. Parking in the project will be centrally located, allowing customers to walk from store to store, Wasick said.
"We worked hard with the county to create a project that impacted those residents the least," he said. "We did our best. It's not perfect, but it could have been a truck stop. Once its completed, I think those residents will be happier than they are now."
Most commissioners voiced reservations about the project, but despite those concerns the vote was 3-2, with commissioners Nancy McDermid, Jim Baushke and Kelly Kite approved the proposal. Commissioners Doug Johnson and David Brady cast the two dissenting votes.
"The project meets all codes yet begs the question, where is the intent of the Master Plan exercised here," Brady said. "It has been developed within the guidelines but it isn't employing the best planning practices. I'm not happy about that."
The project is further hampered by traffic issues, including shared access for existing businesses and Minden Townhomes.
Commissioner Jim Baushke said the traffic generated is his basic concern. He would have preferred some type of compromise, but that isn't possible at this time.
"My personal feeling is, it's a dangerous situation now. I don't like the whole idea," he said. "But we must confirm the planning commission and staff findings or deny them. That's a sad situation for us. I don't like being in that position."
This is the last approval for the project. Groundbreaking is expected in January and building should start in the first quarter of 2008, according to spokeswoman Miya Mackenzie.
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