Discussion continues on proposed Minden casino | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Discussion continues on proposed Minden casino

Opposition to a proposed hotel-casino complex near the intersection of Highways 395 and 88 was staunch Wednesday as demonstrated by the opinions of the Minden Town Board, and about 100 or so residents who attended the public hearing.

But important questions were raised by town officials regarding the developer’s rights to build on the property, and what might become of the 117 acres if county officials reject proposed zoning changes that would allow an upscale casino-hotel complex at the site.

Both board members and the lead engineer for the project acknowledged the alternative to the hotel-casino is likely strip mall development.

Bob Hadfield, a Minden Town Board member, said he felt “stuck in the middle” knowing the hotel-casino, RV park and recreation facility, as proposed, would be done professionally, with quality and a design that is appropriate to the town’s character.

Describing Minden as being at “a crossroads,” Hadfield said he is a realist and knows that growth and development are inevitable.

“The issue before us is a very new one for us,” he said. “My whole thought process has been how can we ensure the land that is available in the Town of Minden will be developed in a quality manner. Frankly, looking at the quality (of the proposal) I was pleased with what I saw.”

Still, Hadfield said he had to vote with the people in the audience, who said firmly they don’t want another casino in Minden.

In its decision, the board unanimously recommended rejection of the request for changes in zoning to allow for the hotel-casino, RV park and bowling center. The Minden Town Board is an elected board that advises the Douglas County Commission.

Residents argued a casino would bring traffic problems, light pollution and more noise to the area. Some argued that the proposed project sits too close to Douglas High School, several blocks away on Highway 88.

The proposal now faces the seven-member Douglas County Planning Commission on Aug. 14, which is also an advisory group, and the Douglas County Commission on Sept. 6.

Town Board Member David Sheets also posed questions as to what could go at the location, if not a hotel-casino.

At one point, an audience member accused him of scare tactics.

“It was a clarity issue,” Sheets responded. “I wanted you to know what else could go in your backyards.”

Board Member Bruce Jacobsen said he was “fully prepared to support the project” but could not bring himself to vote for it after seeing the emotions of those opposed.

Jacobsen said being a native of Nevada, casinos are a part of the state’s heritage. He also said he was impressed with the quality of the project and knew that a lot of work went into it to bring it to a level that would be acceptable to the people of Minden.

Jacobsen also said he changed his mind because Minden residents say they don’t want another casino in their town.

Still, there was a hint of concern from Jacobsen about what could be developed in place of a casino.

“It’s a tough project. I hope that if it doesn’t go, we will see you again with the same kind of quality project,” Jacobsen told Minden Engineer Rob Anderson, who spoke on behalf of the developers.

Before the vote, Hadfield reiterated that he initially favored the development because it would be done under one owner as a single project, instead of a series of projects, like strip malls, which are pieced together.

“I hope that out of what appears to be ashes, the developer doesn’t give up on developing a single piece of land,” Hadfield said.

Before the vote, Hadfield warned that Minden’s future included development. He said it’s up to the residents to make a choice about what they want.

Big box stores and strip malls could be the town’s future, he said.

“We have to have an economic engine for this town, or your property taxes will keep going up,” Hadfield said. “I know that the temptation is to score a victory (in denying the project) but what we are doing is narrowing and defining what the community wants to be.

“If this isn’t what you want, you have to tell us what you want. Right now, I don’t know what you want,” Hadfield said.

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