Second lawsuit challenges casino approval

A second lawsuit has been filed over the county's approval of a "Beverly Hillbillies" themed casino in north Douglas County.

Nevada Northwest LLC filed a lawsuit in Douglas County District Court Sept. 10, charging the county and its board of commissioners interfered with the company's right to equal protection when they allowed a zoning amendment, special use permit and variances for the casino.

Nevada Northwest owns property with tourist commercial zoning and a gaming district overlay in Minden for a proposed hotel, casino, RV park and housing development near the intersection of highways 395 and 88 that includes height and parking requirements, according to the lawsuit.

The Northwest project was approved by Douglas County commissioners in November 2001 with height variances up to 63 feet.

Tourist-commercial zoning allows a maximum 45-foot height, according to Dirk Goering, planner with Douglas County's Community Development Department.

A zoning change and gaming district overlay for Developer Max Baer Jr's $120 million Beverly Hillbillies project have thus far gained approval from Commissioners in August, but plans must still pass muster during a second reading scheduled for Oct. 11.

An increase in the building height from 45 to 143 feet for two 12-story hotel towers, and a decrease in the required number of parking stalls, from 2,707 to 1,540 also passed, but an increase in sign height from 30 to 200 feet for an oil derrick and an increase in maximum sign square footage from 115 to 2,600 square feet was turned down by the Board of Commissioners.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners agreed to all changes for this development in August, except the 200-foot oil derrick. The project is subject to a second reading on Oct. 11.

In addition to more than $10,000 in damages, The complaint asks the court to direct Douglas County to deny the zoning map amendment and special use permit, in addition to more than $10,000 in damages, attorneys' fees and any further relief the court feels is just.

The suit enumerates a number of procedural issues concerning passage of the Hillbillies project at the county level, including the following:

• At their June 12 meeting, the Douglas County Planning Commission failed to approve the proposed zone change by a 3-3 vote, which constituted denial. Planning Commissioner Lawrence Howell was absent.

Chairman Bob Conner subsequently gave developers the option of continuing the item, or forwarding it to the Board of Commissioners with the planning commission denial. Developers opted to continue the item, thus giving Howell a chance to cast his vote.

• At their July 10 meeting, planning commissioners approved the zoning map amendment, essentially reversing their june 12 recommendation for denial, despite the fact that the board was provided information asserting the applicant should be required to amend the master plan, per county code and state law. (see breakout)

• At their August 14 meeting, the planning commission disapproved its minutes from the July 10 meeting, stating they did not adequately reflect opinions of all members of the planning commission. Those minutes were used by the Board of County Commissioners in making their decision to approve the height variance.

The issues are up for reconsideration at the Douglas County Board of Commission meeting, slated for Oct. 11.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.

- Mark Jackson - x4210 -


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