The fate of the old Boulder City Hospital now rests solely in the hands of owner and land developer Randy Schams.
City Council voted Tuesday night 5-0 to uphold the decision of the Planning Commission that Schams’ demolition permit was obtained correctly. The vote by council finalizes the Planning Commission’s vote from Oct. 21.
“This procedure started out irregularly,” said Historic Boulder City Foundation representative and attorney John Hawley. “Nothing in the record shows that there was any general notice to anyone that the particular property was for sale. There was no sign on the property.”
The basis of the foundation’s argument to halt the demolition was that the city didn’t meet five criteria required by a zoning ordinance for the permit application process to be considered legal. The city then had as many as 45 days to complete the process, which Boulder City completed in 21 days.
The five areas the foundation protested Boulder City did not complete were: Provide a historical record (written and photographic), review the condition of the building to determine demolition impact on the neighborhood, allow the historical commission to review the permit, make the owner aware of economic incentives to rehabilitate the building, and encourage the property owner not to demolish the building.
Community Development Director Brok Armantrout said the city followed all five steps correctly despite the nuances noted by Hawley.
Hawley questioned why Boulder City allowed Schams to present his permit to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to review while the property was still in escrow; technically Schams was not the legal owner at the time of presentation.
Hawley said Schams’ meeting with the commission was in June, nearly six weeks prior to his acquisition of the old hospital, which was built in 1931 by Six Cos. to care for those working on the construction of Hoover Dam.
There’s no law that states the city can’t bring Schams’ bid in front of the preservation commission while the building is in escrow, according to City Attorney Dave Olsen, who also said no part of code 11-27-6 requires the process to be done in a certain order.
Hawley again brought up naturally occurring asbestos, citing that demolishing the building will cause not only residents directly next to the hospital harm, but all of Boulder City.
“The one thing we all know is that we don’t know what kind of effect naturally occurring asbestos will have on the city,” Olsen said. “The reality is, there’s no kind of evidence to support naturally occurring asbestos is a health danger. There’s a big effort here in trying to scare everyone into thinking naturally occurring asbestos is going to kill us all.”
City Hall was full as just under a dozen members from the community expressed their disdain for Schams’ demolition permit process.
Members of the Historic Boulder City Foundation spoke during public comment, saying Schams never attended the historical commission’s review of his permit, but it was his employee, Jim Giannosa, who appeared on his behalf, not answering any questions the commission had.
Armantrout quickly debunked that accusation, reading from the documented transcript of that hearing with some of Giannosa’s responses.
“Being at odds on these types of issues don’t get us anywhere,” Mayor Rod Woodbury said. “I haven’t heard any hard evidence to the contrary that (the demolition permit application) wasn’t (filed correctly). There were lots of innuendo and seeds of doubt, and maybe that just means we need better processes. I’m committed to trying to find better processes to preserve our history.”
City Council members and the residents who spoke during the public comment session agreed with the Planning Commission’s findings from Oct. 21 that zoning ordinance 11-27-6 needs to be modified so its’ not as vague in its practice.
Prior to the hearing about the old hospital, an update on the city’s recycling program was presented.
Mike Pacini of BC Waste Free spoke about how well recycling has been going in Boulder City since beginning its single-stream recycling program, which allows all items to be put in one container instead of separating recyclables.
Pacini said about 14 million pounds of waste was kept out of the Boulder City landfill in the three years since the initiative began.
According to Pacini, there were 3,500-3,700 homes that were recycling last year. Today, more than 4,000 homes recycle in Boulder City, with nine out of 10 businesses participating in the recycling program.
Contact reporter Randy Faehnrich at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @RandyFaehnrich