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Genoa developer heads to commission

by Linda Hiller

A Genoa real estate investor will be taking her proposed two-story inn and retail complex to the county commission tomorrow after the Genoa Historic District turned the project down again.

Bettie Kanelos, who bought the quarter-acre corner lot at Main and Nixon in downtown Genoa from Murray Alstott in March for a $475,000, said she is frustrated with the process of getting a hotel built in Genoa.

“When they turned it down the first time, it was because I had changed a door, then they said there wasn’t enough detail, that I didn’t have a display of samples,” she said. “But this last time, we had a whole board made up of samples of the materials we wanted to use – like you do in kindergarten – and when the meeting opened, we knew right away they were going to deny it.”

At issue with the historic district board has been the lack of specification of the building’s materials, colors and theme of the building, members said. The 12,280-square-foot project features an L-shaped building that faces Main Street with parking in front and back.

After the most recent setback, Kanelos said she will take her project to the county commission.

“The historic board simply won’t give me the information about what the building is supposed to look like,” she said. “I am totally frustrated. They keep saying, ‘It’s in the book,’ but it isn’t. I’m at the end of my ropes and I think the only fair shake I’m going to get is through the county. I don’t know what to do, and I have no other choice but to do this – if only the board would have told me what specifically they needed.”

– There’s a deadline. Kanelos said she has to break ground on the project on or before July 28 to avoid a huge tax bite.

“The thing is, they can have a nice project that I can put some money into, or not,” she said. “I would not fold up now if hell freezes over. I am not trying to wreck a town and I think the projects I would put there – a bakery, an old-fashioned candy and ice cream store – would benefit the town.

Kanelos, a partner in Genoa Realty, said if she doesn’t get the project through in a timely manner, she will fight for disclosures on any building being sold in the historic town.

“No one in their right mind would buy some property if they knew the town can dictate what you can and can’t do in there,” she said.

– County planner input. Douglas County Planning/Economic Development Manager Mimi Moss said that Kanelos appeal to the county commission would still have to go back to the Genoa Historic District Board for approval.

“We can’t issue a building permit without their approval,” she said. “It’s because of the historic nature of the town – we gave the board that power because of that, and we do look at the materials, design and compatibility with surrounding buildings.”

Moss said the Genoa Fire Station a few lots north of Kanelos’ lot also went through several design revisions to make it fit in with the historic look of the town.

“Genoa is the only town with a historic district overlay, and it does makes building something there a little more complicated,” she said.