County rejects Beverly Hillbillies casino derrick

It's back to the drawing board for Max Baer Jr. and his proposed signature oil derrick after commissioners denied a variance Thursday, saying the developers did not meet the needed criteria.

The proposed 143-foot oil derrick was pared down from its original 200-foot height and the readerboard decreased to 2,364 from 2,600 square feet. County code allows a maximum sign height of 30 feet and sign area of 115 square feet.

The proposal for the Jethro Bodine's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino did not meet the basic criteria for a variance, according to some commissioners.

"It will cause material damage to other properties in the area," said Commission Chairman Doug Johnson. "The circumstances and conditions for this sign do not apply to surrounding properties."

The decision was 4-1, with commissioners Johnson, David Brady, Jim Baushke and Nancy McDermid voting to deny Baer's appeal. Commissioner Kelly Kite cast the opposition vote.

"Anything higher than the building is a deal-breaker for me, but now that height is lower," Kite said. "It's not going to be readily visible from Carson Valley and we'll be getting space for emergency responders and increased communications. It will attract visitors to the site. That's what we want."

Don Smit, spokesman for the casino project, said they aren't giving up. Their staff will be working very hard to find a solution seen as good for both Douglas County and the casino.

"We'll be working on this every day," Smit said. "But we can't minimize the importance of this monument, nor the need for appropriate signage for this type of structure."

Commissioners approved zoning and variances for the casino in north Douglas County last fall. Part of the larger Riverwood commercial complex, the casino will be located on about 23 acres opposite Carson Valley Plaza.

Phase one of Baer's project includes a 40,000 square foot gaming area with 800 slots and 16 tables, a showroom, cinema complex and a five story, 240 room hotel.

In other business:

n Goldtown, a proposed casino and resort on 45 acres in north Douglas County, was approved by a 3-2 vote. The casino was approved in 1992, but developers changed the footprint, which required a new special use permit, zoning change and major variance to allow an increase in height from 64 to 100 feet.

Commission Chairman Doug Johnson and David Brady cast the two dissenting votes.

Located on the southeast corner of Highway 395 and South Sunridge Drive, the project will be built in two phases.

Phase one will include the hotel and 92,000 square feet of casino space, 50,000 square feet of retail outlet shopping, restaurants and a convention facility. Costs are estimated at $125 million for the first phase,

Phase two includes a parking garage, conference center, event center, casino expansion, retail space, spa and wellness center, according to information from county officials.

n A wish list of airport improvements, everything from crack repair for runways 34 and 16 to design and engineering for a tiedown ramp for the airport's east side, were approved unanimously by commissioners Thursday.

These capital improvement requests will be forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration January 15 to be considered for funding.

n Commissioners approved a resolution to consolidate the Sierra Forest Fire and East Fork fire protection districts 4-1, with Commissioner Kelly Kite casting the one dissenting vote.

With this approval, the resolution will be forwarded to the State Forester fire warden for consideration and to determine feasibility. If approved, the two districts should be consolidated by April 1.

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


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