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Genoa historic commission sends plan back

by Linda Hiller, Staff Writer

The five-member board of the Genoa Historic District Commission was unable to make a decision Monday on a proposed 2-story, 11-unit lodging facility, asking the developer to come back a third time with more information.

Bettie Kanelos, a partner in Genoa Realty, had been before the Genoa historic commission on March 14 and thought that this would be the meeting that gave her a thumbs up or thumbs down on the hotel’s design.

“I love the new rules that come out of here,” she said as the board informed her that the updated drawings she and builder Ed Shaw brought to the meeting were insufficient. Because they were different than the drawings that had been posted for public view, the board couldn’t vote until the new drawings were posted for 10 days.

The commission took issue with the lack of specification of the building’s materials, colors and theme, to be located on a quarter-acre lot at the northwest corner of Main and Nixon streets in the heart of Genoa.

The design of the proposed structure includes 10 rental units, a manager’s unit and retail spaces for small businesses such as a hair salon or a bakery that would cater to tourists as well as residents. The 12,280-square-foot project design features an L-shaped building that faces Main Street with parking in front and back.

– Brief background. Genoa has been declared an official historic district by both the state of Nevada and the United States government.

It is the Genoa Historic District Commission’s mandate to make sure that any new or remodeled commercial building in the town adheres to the historic look of the small community that boasts itself as Nevada’s oldest settlement.

Nevada Historic Preservation Officer Ron James said Genoa is one of a handful of Nevada historic districts listed on the national register of historic places, including Eureka, Austin, Boulder City, Goldfield and the Las Vegas High School district.

If a district adds buildings that are not in keeping with the historic look of the community, they can be de-listed, he said.

“It is a possibility, but we don’t necessarily go out of our way to find them,” he said. “Since these are non-renewable resources, the boundaries of a district can sometimes change.”

James said inclusion on the historic registers isn’t meant to fossilize a community.

“It does not require people to live in museums, however, it is about tasteful compatible infill. It is an organic process.”

– Residents speak. Instead of adjourning, board chair Nancy Miluck asked the approximately 30 people present in the crowded meeting room to express their thoughts on the project.

“Remember, we’re only here to approve the appearance of this building,” said board secretary Bob Centanni.

“I have a really big problem with looking into a parking lot,” said Miluck. “That is not Genoa to me.”

“I don’t like the parking lot, either,” said Randy Falcke, who grew up in Genoa and recently moved back from San Luis Obispo, Calif. “I’d like it to be like historic Genoa – look at photos.”

Randy’s wife Betsy agreed, and hoped a friendly compromise could be agreed on.

“If there’s an option I’d like to see a solution and I’d like to keep the trees,” she said. “We welcome development in the town of Genoa. We want to work with you, not against you. A lot of people are emotional, but they are genuine and they care. It’s a very loving community.”

“But we don’t want it to look like Minden” Randy said.

– Don’t change the look. Bob Sanfilippo, owner of the nearby 3-unit Genoa House Inn Bed and Breakfast, said that as a businessman he supported Kanelos’ project, but as a resident, he did not.

“We don’t want to stop any progress – it might bring business to us,” he said. “But as a private citizen, I think it’s terrible, especially the delivery trucks up Cord Alley.”

Minden resident Cora Hansen, also a partner in Genoa Realty, said she thought Kanelos was more than ready to work with the commission to make a new business that would benefit everyone with an investment in Genoa.

“I have seen Bettie beat herself up over this and I’ve told her that I don’t want to see her sacrifice one tree,” Hansen said.

“I’m not against it except for the size,” said Genoa Town Board member Steve Hollister. “Consider downsizing it to a more appropriate size.”

– Written guidelines needed. Greater Genoa Business Association member Les Kynett said he thought the board should give Kanelos written guidelines to help the project meet the historic district’s requirements.

“Our board needs to give Bettie a definite direction,” he said.

“We’re trying to protect and preserve the historic nature of Genoa,” Miluck said.

“We want the town to flow from the courthouse down,” said board member Ron Bommarito, who owns an antique store across Main Street from Kanelos’ proposed inn. “It needs to be architecturally correct.”

Kanelos said she was open to design suggestions from the board.

“I am willing to work with the board and do whatever it takes to make it flow,” she said. “I am not going to spend x-amount of dollars and ruin the town.”

“I just don’t want it to look like Walley’s,” said resident K.C. Brennan. “If it was more historic, but at Walley’s – boom – it’s a condo with timeshares.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Nikki Boyd. “Bettie always does quality projects.”

– Moving forward. As those in attendance voiced a variety of opinions on the project, Kanelos, who has lived in the Carson Valley since July 1996, grew frustrated, especially with suggestions on downsizing.

“Frankly, it is not worth it to me to put something on a lot in Genoa and go into debt every month,” she said.

“Other community lots are coming on the market and you should make a (guideline) book and give it to the Realtors. I paid top dollar for this property and now everybody wants me to downsize so the city looks better. That’s not a possibility.”

Kanelos bought the quarter acre corner lot from Murray Alstott last month for $475,000, according to the county recorder’s office.

After the revised plans are presented to the commission – which Kanelos said should be possible within – they will be posted in the window of the town office, located in the old firehouse south of the community store.