Genoa Town Board to discuss historic commission merger

Genoa as it appeared in the mid-1970s when it became a historic district.

Genoa as it appeared in the mid-1970s when it became a historic district.

Unlike the towns of Minden and Gardnerville, Genoa doesn’t have an engineer on staff.

In both the larger towns, the managers are licensed engineers and conduct design and plan reviews for nearly every meeting.

Today, Genoa Town Board members are scheduled to discuss the feasibility of merging the Historic District Commission with the Town Advisory Board.

The town board meets 5:30 p.m. at the Genoa Town Hall, itself a historic structure built in 1886 by the Raycraft family.

Taking on that responsibility could result in increased costs for the town, including hiring professionals, but would give elected town board members more authority.

Douglas County commissioners agreed to hear a discussion of the proposal at a future meeting when they approved a new historic commission ordinance last month.

The district was formed in 1974 after then Town Board Chairman Hap Haight suggested it to commissioners. The district, which follows the boundaries of the 1874 Hawkins Map, was officially recognized by the National Registry of Historic Places on April 16, 1975, according to the National Park Service.

When the historic commission was originally founded, it consisted of three people appointed by county commissioners from the town and the Genoa Town Board. In a 1995 revision of the ordinance, town board members were removed from the commission panel and membership was expanded to five members, including residents who don’t live within the town boundaries.

Current Historic Commission Chairman Bob Centanni lives in Genoa Lakes while Vice Chairwoman Marian Vassar lives just above him.

According to the statement of significance accompanying the original national registry listing, Genoa was Nevada’s first settlement.

““It was the center of efforts for self-government which led to territorial status for Nevada,” according to a March 26, 1975, statement written by Historic Preservation Specialist Wilbur Wieprecht for the Nevada Historic Preservation Office. “When still a part of Utah Territory, it was the seat of Carson County. Later, as a town in the state of Nevada, it became the seat of Douglas County.”

According to an Associated Press article written by resident Brendan Riley, and published by the Reno Evening Gazette, a fifth of the town’s 150 residents turned out on Jan. 22, 1974, to debate the proposed district. In a compromise, the district would only apply to commercial buildings.

A decade later, a proposal by Coldwell Banker to add its blue awnings to the real estate office in town resulted in deadlocking the six-member board. County commissioners voted to add an extra appointee, who would be attorney and resident Dave Gamble, who would run for district judge the following year.

The commission’s charge is to review the outside appearance of commercial structures to ensure they are architecturally consistent with the town.

County commissioners approved an ordinance last month that encoded the “Little Brown Book,” which the historic commission has traditionally followed when making its determinations.

Vassar, who has served on the commission for many years, said the town has its own particular architecture because it was built over the course of a half-century.

Historic structures in town range from the Walker House built in 1854 to the last years of the 19th Century.

The commission’s most recent decision to deny a certificate of appropriateness for a cell tower disguised as a water tower behind the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department is scheduled to be appealed to Douglas County commissioners on Oct. 5.


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