Three planning commissioners removed from Douglas planning board |

Three planning commissioners removed from Douglas planning board

Kurt Hildebrand
Tribune News Service

MINDEN, Nev. – Former planning commission chairman Lawrence Howell said Tuesday he wasn’t planning to reapply for his position until three county commissioners asked for his application.

“I was not going to seek reappointment to the planning commission,” he said. “It’s no secret that in small-town politics, it’s common for people to seek vindication in retribution.”

County commissioners voted 4-1 on Monday to replace all three incumbent planning commissioners, including Howell, Rick Ross and Bob Conner, with Frank Godecke, Jeremy Davidson and Don Miner.

Howell said he filed his application on the last day after receiving several requests that he continue to serve on the planning board.

“I had no reason to believe that I wouldn’t be reappointed,” he said. “I got personal requests from existing county commissioners to file my application. I received phone calls from supporters, but more importantly, members of the current board asked me to apply.”

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Howell pointed out that he was the last countywide representative who actually lives at Lake Tahoe.

“Not only did the board ask for my applications, they ignored that I’m the only Lake resident on the planning commission. When I ran for District 4 commissioner, I won the majority of votes from District 4. They ignored the fact that I won the majority of voters in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe voted for me to represent them as a candidate and a constituent.”

Howell was defeated by county commissioner Nancy McDermid by 445 votes in the November General Election.

“The current board on day one lost this constituent’s trust and Lake Tahoe lost its representation,” Howell said. “I’m disheartened and disappointed in the group. I did not have an answer why they changed their minds.”

Also removed from the planning commission, Conner ran as an Independent American for clerk-treasurer, and the Topaz Lodge, which is managed by Ross, donated money to Dave Brady’s failed re-election campaign.

Commissioner Doug Johnson, who was the lone no vote, warned commissioners that the vote sent a powerful message to the rest of the community.

“Boy, are we sending out the wrong message,” Johnson said. “Did any of you even call any of these people to tell them why you’re not reappointing them? I’m in disbelief. I’m very disappointed.”

McDermid said her vote wasn’t about the incumbents themselves, but about bringing fresh faces onto the planning commission.

“I see people who’ve been on the planning commission for seven years, five years and four years,” McDermid said. “It’s time to see some fresh faces on the board.”

The other commissioners agreed.

“Nothing against Don Miner,” Johnson said of the former county commissioner and consultant to Park Cattle Co. “I’m sure he’d be glad to know he’s a fresh face.”

Commissioner Greg Lynn said the new planning commission reflects the county’s change of circumstance.

“A lot of the hot button issues dealing with growth and agriculture need a different perspective and a different interpretation,” he said.

The planning commission oversees the master plan five-year update which is coming up this year.

McDermid signaled the change when she listed her three nominees for the planning commission in a motion out of the gate.

County attorney Mike McCormick told commissioners they had to make one motion at a time and say who was being replaced.

When each vote came, all three of McDermid’s nominees were approved by a majority of commissioners.

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