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Appeal to halt demolition of Browder building denied

Despite literal smoke and flames at City Hall on Tuesday evening, City Council denied an appeal of the permit to demolish the old Browder building, the oldest commercial building in the city.

Resident Ray Turner filed the appeal July 19, stating there were several issues that were questionable.

“A review of this application should have immediately raised red flags regarding the eligibility of the applicant to qualify for such a permit,” Turner said.

Among his concerns was that the permit application did not include the required and approved Clark County Department of Air Quality permit.

The air quality office said it has not received any applications from Charles Lawson, owner of the property, for the required asbestos report, dust quality permit or demolition notice. Spokesperson Kevin MacDonald said those items are usually applied for closer to the actual demolition.

“We won’t issue the building permit until we receive the (air quality) permit,” said Brok Armantrout, former community development coordinator and current special projects coordinator. “Technically it could be issued without the air quality permit but that hasn’t been our past practice.”

Turner also said the demolition permit application submitted by Lawson was obscured and did not include his signature, name or date.

However, a copy of the permit provided to the Boulder City Review on June 20 by the city’s public information officer clearly shows the same application with the signature and name intact and dated June 5.

Time for review

Turner told the council he saw another copy with a July 25 date on it, five days after the 45-day holding period for the property concluded.

A 45-day zoning hold is placed on all demolition requests for property within the city’s historic district, which gives officials time to review the application and determine whether the property owner fulfilled demolition requirements. The review ended July 20, but a demolition permit has yet to be issued.

Turner also questioned the validity of the contractor’s license. According to the appeal, as the owner Lawson could not pull the permit for demolition so he listed Charger Construction as the company that would receive the permit.

“The state contractor license listed on the application does not qualify for the demolition of a complete structure,” he said. “The license listed on this application to demolish one of our most historic and recognizable structures, the Browder building, is a C4 contractor’s license, which is for painting and decorating only.”

According to the Nevada Contractors Board, Charger has as C4 license for the state of Nevada, as well as a B2 contractor’s license for residential and small commercial construction. Both are active.

Protect historic structures

Turner said he filed this appeal not for personal gain but because he loves the city, it’s people and wants to preserve one of the town’s historical buildings.

“Regardless of the outcome this evening, I think my main hope here tonight is to point out the woefully inadequate regulations we have in our town to protect our historic structures,” he said.

Councilman Warren Harhay asked acting City Attorney Steve Morris for some clarification about the 45-day hold. “I think it’s a valid point that the perfected application is dated five days after the primary checklist is signed off on, which seems kind of odd,” Harhay said. “I can understand that you’d have an amended permit, but does the perfected permit application restart the 45-day clock?”

Morris said that the way the code is written, the 45-day hold begins once the application is received.

“It can delay it no longer than that time period,” he said.

Councilman Kiernan McManus questioned whether an incomplete application was still considered filed.

“The fact remains is that you can submit an application, and the city can start working on that and can along the way… if there are things within the application that are not in compliance, then the city notifies the applicant that you’re not in compliance and you need to bring this in compliance, but that doesn’t necessarily start the clock over again within our current code,” Morris replied.

Harhay said the current ordinance did not have a standard of adequacy for the required reports, and the city should address that in the future.

Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt agreed, saying the council has to respond to the law as it is written now, but it should be addressed in the future to reflect the city’s concern for historical preservation. McManus also agreed with the need to bring it into that compliance.

Mayor Rod Woodbury said certain technicalities had been pointed out with this permit, but overall he felt the process had been followed.

The council denied the appeal 4-1, with McManus voting against it.

Prior the presentation, McManus disclosed that he and Turner are friends and that he helped him with the appeal, including providing a blank application.

During Turner’s presentation, the meeting was adjourned for a few minutes to put out a fire in the council chambers. According to Fire Chief Kevin Nicholson, a battery in a woman’s purse had allegedly overheated and lit several items on fire. She was treated at the scene for minor injuries and released.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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