Letter: Douglas doesn't issue proper land notices

The Douglas County Community Development Department, under the direction of Bob Nunes, through gross negligence, incompetence or willful deception, has once again not done its job in accordance with state or county code. The new master plan was adopted in 1996, and then followed by a countywide zoning map to implement consistency rezoning as part of the adoption of the County Master Plan and Development Code.

NRS 278.260 requires notice of hearing to be mailed to each party who will be affected by a zoning change as follows: "If the change involves a change in zoning in a county whose population is less than 400,000, the governing body shall cause a notice to be sent to the applicant, and each owner, as listed on the county assessor's records of at least 30 parcels nearest to the change. The notice must be sent by mail and be written in a language which is easy to understand. The notice must set forth the time, place and purpose of the hearing and a physical description of, or a map detailing, the proposed change, must indicate the existing zoning designation, and the proposed designation of the property in question and must contain a brief summary of the intent of the proposed change."

The notice mailed to residents did not comply with the literal language of NRS 278.260 in that it did not state that property within the Pleasantview subdivision that was zoned for two-acre lots was to be changed to one-half acre lots, nor was a physical description, or a map detailing the proposed change provided. In fact, the postcard notice states that there will be no actions taken to impact the present single family residential zoning that presently existed and that it is similar to the present zoning designation of R-1. As a result, not being properly informed as required by law, no one affected responded to the hearing notice. Furthermore, while it is claimed that these defective postcards of notice were mailed to all the residents affected, no one can recall having ever received such notices.

When finally knowing in April 2000 of the change that was made, communication with Mr. Nunes resulted in a letter from him which says, "The District Attorney has advised that even if the zoning item was inadequately noticed by the county in 1997, any claim to invalidate the county's zoning decision taken pursuant to that notice is now barred by the statute of limitations." So, not only does Community Development not come with proper notice to the public under the law, but now it relies upon the law to justify their failure to comply with the law of proper notice. Furthermore, Mimi Moss and Bob Nunes inform us that this same type of generic notice was used to notify everyone in the county of proposed zoning changes that would affect them, so technically the entire county has been illegally rezoned in 1997.

How can the public have any confidence in the county when its officials do not follow the law? Why didn't Community Development have the district attorney review the notice before it was used since it would have such a profound effect on all the county?

It is time for the County Commissioners to clean house in the Community Development Department and to hire competent professional personnel who can at least follow the law instead of taking shortcuts or bending it to favor certain friends. Unless appropriate actions are promptly taken, the next step is to turn these matters over to the County Grand Jury.

ROBERT E. HAVRANEK, President

Pleasantview Homeowners Association

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