Who wins when the mob rules?

I have been a planning commissioner for more than 10 years. I am also an employee of RPS Homes. Last week’s planning commission meeting was, to date, the worst display of how the idea of mob mentality rules and how shortsighted the “mob” can be.

During the public comment portion of the agenda, prior to the introduction and acceptance of the agenda, members of this community spoke in opposition to an item up for consideration. That agenda item was the rezoning of the old hospital site on Park Street. The property is currently zoned R1-7; the applicant was requesting R1-5.

Before any discussion of the request, community members assailed it as being, among other things, bad for the community, a drag on the home values in the surrounding neighborhood, a detriment to the quality of life for the neighbors, too noisy, resource robbing of water and utilities, incompatible with the community, an increase on the neighborhood traffic, an increase in parking, and the list of negatives goes on.

All of these issues are valid points; all of which the Planning Commission time and again discusses, evaluates and holds a public hearing about prior to any consideration or action.

Whether this was a viable and acceptable request never will be known because the applicant withdrew the request from the agenda, halting any further discussion.

Unfortunately, what did not get discussed are the following facts. The developer might now, without any further action, develop the property as R1-7 with any size or style of home on the property as long as it conforms to the current zoning. One story, two story, big-box ultra modern, whatever, no continuity, etc. It doesn’t matter because as a community we cannot dictate what a builder does with his property. We only regulate zoning and building height. We cannot control color, content, architectural style, etc.

Furthermore, to add insult to injury, the developer can subdivide that property into four custom lots, again without any further action, and with the possibility of very large custom homes being built by private individuals and not the developer, who are free to do anything they want in any style they choose.

Finally, as a worst-case scenario, the developer just can fence off the property and leave it vacant, which does not benefit the community (lost property tax revenue as one example), which would again have very little oversight by the city.

At a “cookies and cheese” meeting with the surrounding neighbors, the developer told the community there would be only seven or eight homes built; the zoning request was for up to 12 homes. It’s important to underscore up to 12 homes; without a zone change the quantity is unknown.

No plans were submitted, as it is customary to design after the zone change request is approved. The extensive process to design a plan based on zoning is typically not done until the zone change is approved, at which point the tentative map process is started.

During the tentative map process, the public has its second and most impactful opportunity to comment on the proposed development and voice its constructive criticism. The comments of all those concerned would have been addressed.

Unfortunately, now that the item has been withdrawn there will be no discussion.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my community. I, as do all members of the Planning Commission, take these matters very seriously. We all have a connection and a great affection for this community, and we all care very deeply for its dedicated citizens. Now that the mob has ruled, however, you’ve got to ask yourself has the mob really won, or did its shortsightedness rule the day once again?

Jim Giannosa has been a resident of Clark County since 1981, a resident of Boulder City since 1998 and has served this community as a Boulder City planning commissioner since 2006. He is currently the planning commission chairman. Giannosa has been actively involved in the commercial and residential real estate development business for more than 40 years.

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