Residents respond to Beverly Hills casino plan | RecordCourier.com

Residents respond to Beverly Hills casino plan

by Susie Vasquez

Response was mixed in Douglas County, following the announcement that businessman Max Baer Jr. could build Jethro Bodine’s Beverly Hillbilly Casino & Mansion in north Douglas County.

Robbe Lehmann, project manager for Big George Ventures, said the proposal could ruin efforts by company owner Ray Sidney to build a neighbor-friendly residential district on 100 acres just east of the proposed casino.

“We’re trying to build a unique development where people can meet their neighbors,” Lehmann said. “That won’t work if people have to look at two hotel towers hovering over them.”

The property was purchased with the area’s commercial zoning in mind, but a casino at that location will significantly reduce the property values, Lehmann said.

“The land was supposed to be used for stores, not a casino,” he said. “If they were building a casino north of Topsy Lane and along Highway 395 where there’s a gaming overlay, we wouldn’t be complaining.”

The Big George project should come before Douglas County’s planning board next month and includes 360 homes, 100 of those multi-family. There are some water issues, but groundbreaking could be scheduled in about a year, Lehmann said.

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The Big George development includes eco-friendly features including homes made with insulated concrete forms, which contribute a very high thermal mass that will keep the homes warm in winter and cool in summer.

Part of a larger commercial complex, Baer’s project would be located on about 23 acres along the eastern border of a proposed 95-acre redevelopment project, opposite Carson Valley Plaza.

Phase one includes a 40,000-square-foot gaming area with 800 slots and 16 tables, a showroom, cinema complex and five-story, 240-room hotel. An arcade and “Granny’s White Lightning Bar” are just a few of the attractions in almost 300,000 square feet, according to project spokesman Don Smit.

The casino will require a zoning change and variances.

Bill Henderson, director of marketing for the Carson Valley Inn, said it will be interesting to watch those processes.

“The variance process can tilt the playing field unevenly, but if they (the casino project) can do all that in the confines of what Douglas County allows, they should go for it,” he said.

He doesn’t think the casino would hurt his business and it may even help a little, he said.

“Everything depends on how successful they are,” he said.

Indian Hills resident Art Baer, (no relation) said he supports the project.

“I’m all for it. We need something up here,” he said. “We don’t have convention center capabilities and it would be a heck of a draw for this part of the country.”

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.