Judge hears arguments on Genoa project | RecordCourier.com
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Judge hears arguments on Genoa project

by Christy Chalmers, Staff Writer

Lawyers for a Genoa group that objects to a 12,280-square-foot hotel and store complex said Friday the project should be reconsidered because the approval process was riddled with errors.

Attorneys for Support Historic Genoa, Inc., a non-profit group led by five Genoa residents, told Douglas District Judge Dave Gamble the process was guided by inconsistent county codes, ever-changing plans and at least once, an illegal meeting.

“The process here has just gone awry,” said one of the lawyers, Jeffrey Dickerson of Reno.

Support Historic Genoa formed after the Douglas County Commission approved developer Bettie Kanelos’ request to build a 12,280-square-foot office, retail and motel building at the northwest corner of Main and Nixon streets.

The group wants Gamble to send the project back to the Genoa Historic District Commission. He didn’t make a ruling Friday.

The historic commission, which reviews new projects to make sure they match the town’s historic flavor, already denied the project, leading to Kanelos’ appeal to the county commission.

The county commission’s June 15 decision followed months of wrangling between Kanelos and the historic commission. Discussions between the two broke down as they accused each other of not providing enough information for action. They also disagreed over the size of the building.

Genoa residents say the proposed building will dwarf surrounding structures, while Kanelos says she needs a 12,280-square-foot building to make the project profitable.

District Attorney Scott Doyle said the building’s size couldn’t be considered in granting approval, leading to the county commission’s approval of the project and the appeal by Support Historic Genoa.

Friday’s hearing drew 45 observers, who were warned by Gamble to keep their comments to themselves.

Dickerson said the county commission, which created the historic commission, gave the historic board rule-making authority that supersedes regular county codes. That authority includes looking at building features and deciding what doesn’t match the town, he said.

Plus, the county commission shouldn’t be reviewing the historic board’s decisions, he said.

Sue Trimmer, the other Support Historic Genoa attorney, said a June meeting of the historic commission board violated Nevada’s open meeting law because plans for Kanelos’ project were discussed but not properly posted. In addition, she said three members of the five-man Douglas County commission were present without proper public notification.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Chally said the historic commission is overstepping its bounds.

“I think they’ve gone way beyond what the commission ever delegated to them,” he said. “There was not direct authority to say ‘you can adopt all those guidelines.'”

Gamble asked several questions about county zoning policies, but said he won’t focus on the alleged open meeting violations.

He didn’t say when he might issue a ruling.