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Minden stung by DA letter regarding library approvals

by Sheila Gardner

The off-again, on-again gemtlichkeit felt between the Minden Town Board and Douglas County staff apparently is off again.

Town board members were stung by a letter from the District Attorney’s office to Library Director Linda Deacy which said, in effect, the town lacked the authority to require the county to meet certain conditions before the Minden board would approve the library’s planned $1 million expansion.

Robert Morris, chief deputy district attorney, advised Deacy before the meeting that the town has authority to consider projects and to review projects for impact on streets, sidewalks, street lighting, drainage and solid waste collection.

“Since the purpose of the (town) review is conceptual approval it is appropriate for the town to raise all the concerns it has about the project,” Morris wrote.

But, he added, it’s inappropriate for the town to suggest conditions for final approval. That is the county’s job, Morris advised.

The library is located within the town boundaries and Deacy presented the expansion plans to board Wednesday.

“The district attorney’s letter insults me,” town board member Ross Chichester said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We’ve had several meetings with the commissioners and the direction has been to let the town handle the things they do so well. Apparently, this is a failure from the district attorney’s office to interpret what the county told them to do.”

As the board does with all projects, town engineer Bruce Scott addressed parking, landscaping, drainage, signage and fee payments.

He was at a loss to explain the county’s objections to the conditions.

“This letter really comes as off- the-wall,” Scott said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “These conditions are not intended to be a stumbling block. They are not intended to be onerous.”

The town had reached a fragile truce with the county over such ongoing issues as payment of fees for projects, employee classification, design review standards and developing ordinances, which must be approved by county commissioners for town concerns such as speed limits and drainage.

“I hate to think I wasted all that time sitting at all those county commission meetings, then something like this comes up. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” said town board member Bruce Jacobsen.

n Support project. Board members were quick to add that they supported the cramped library’s 3,700-square-foot addition and sympathized with Deacy’s tight timeline.

“The library expansion was put on hold even though the expansion plan was done in 1994,” she said. “With the passage of Assembly Bill 616, we lost 97 percent of our funding and we had to make sure we would be able to keep the facility open.”

Voters OK’d a quarter-cent sales tax increase in September to support the library, but the tax hike still must be approved by the Nevada Legislature.

Several years ago, the Douglas library qualified for $161,000 in government funds in a program which no longer exists, so the library board had to make sure the money was still available.

Deacy has until Jan. 31 to provide the state library with expansion building plans, and proof that the county would match the $161,000, and has enough money to complete the project, or the funding evaporates.

Negotiations broke down with the original architect for the project, so the library board drafted Reno architect Jerry Cruitt who is overseeing replacment of the roof on the building and is familiar with the facility.

“The (grant) money is available for three more weeks,” Deacy said.

She told the Minden board their concerns would be addressed as the library nears completion.

“Many of your concerns are not issues we’re ignoring,” Deacy said. “We had to get this through this month’s deadline. The district attorney said we will entertain any concerns you have as the plans go through the county.”

n No fights. Morris said Friday he wasn’t trying to pick a fight with the town board.

“I am sorry if the (Minden) board felt this was a change in policy. Basically, it’s a continuation of our simplified design review using simplified requirements,” he said. “I wouldn’t have written the letter, except I was asked to by our client (the library). My impression was we had resolved most of these issues in the updated design criteria manual.”

Morris said he was happy the town board approved the addition.

“I’m sure we are going to work with them when the final plans come through,” Morris said.

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