Genoa residents go to court to stop project |

Genoa residents go to court to stop project

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

A group of Genoa residents has asked for a court order to stop a project they claim will dilute the town’s historic character.

Support Historic Genoa, Inc., a non-profit group led by five Genoa residents, filed the request Aug. 11 in Douglas District Court. The document challenges a June 15 decision by the Douglas County Commission granting Bettie Kanelos permission to build a 12,280-square-foot office, retail and motel building at the northwest corner of Nixon and Main streets.

Kanelos originally approached the Genoa Historic District Commission, which reviews changes or additions to the town, with plans for the L-shaped building. Discussions broke down as both sides accused the other of not providing enough information for action.

They also disagreed over the size of the building, which they say will dwarf surrounding structures, including the 900-square-foot Genoa Community Church just west of the site.

Kanelos appealed to the county commission. After an opinion by District Attorney Scott Doyle that the building’s size couldn’t be considered in granting approval, the commissioners approved the project on a 4-1 vote.

Support Historic Genoa, Inc. claims the commission’s decision reflects an abuse of discretion and violates the state’s open meeting law. The group said the county commission wrongfully substituted its own judgment for the historic commission and didn’t follow the right procedure for hearing the appeal.

The group also claims Genoa residents near the proposed project were not given adequate notice of the county commission hearing, and says Kanelos submitted plans that weren’t originally presented for public scrutiny, both violations of the open meeting law.

Support Historic Genoa wants a court order voiding the county commission decision and sending the matter back to the Historic District Commission. The group also wants the court to overturn Doyle’s opinion that size can’t be a factor in deciding if a building fits Genoa’s character.

The building’s size generated most of the complaints about Kanelos’ proposal. Opponents also raised concerns about traffic and the appearance of the building.

A meeting between Kanelos and the Genoa Historic District Commission yielded some compromise on building materials and its appearance. The county commissioners suggested Kanelos reconsider the size of the building, but she said the requested changes would make the project too expensive.

Genoa is Nevada’s first settlement and has restrictions on buildings and development that are meant to preserve its historic flavor.