Complaints from developers and constituents has led one Lyon County commissioner to call for the firing of Planning Director Rob Loveberg and the termination of the county's engineering contract with Lumos & Associates.
Commissioner Don Tibbals said that he has received complaints for three years "continuously" from developers who say the county Planning Department and Lumos & Associates, the county engineer, are taking too long to get to their projects, putting too many conditions on them and in the case of Lumos, charging too much.
"When you get one rotten apple in the basket, get rid of it," he said. "We ought to fire them, terminate them and that's it. Roundtables can go on and on, so let's start over."
He said he didn't think Loveberg had given Lumos all the information they needed, or these problems might not keep cropping up.
"I have had nothing but complaints," Tibbals said. "A year and a half to get something done. Plans have been terminated and they have to start over."
The comments were made during a workshop to discuss roundtables that have occurred with developers, builders and county staff, held during the commissioners' regular meeting Thursday.
Commissioner LeRoy Goodman said the perception among developers is that the Lyon County Planning Department is "obstructionist."
"They say every chance you get they're putting up roadblocks," he said. "If you don't do it then Lumos is doing it. People want to do business in Lyon County."
Goodman said Lyon County's location, networking and opportunities made the area attractive to companies, but a reputation for being obstructionists will drive businesses away.
He said he had heard of cases where a property owner was charged $8,000 by Lumos to review plans to build a driveway, and the company's process takes too long.
"The public is getting ripped off," he said.
Though Goodman did not echo Tibbals' comments, he did say the chairman had some good points.
"Something has to be considered for the reputation for the county," he said.
Commissioner Larry McPherson said he agreed with Tibbals. But Commissioners Phyllis Hunewill and Bob Milz both were supportive of Loveberg. Milz blamed confusing and contradictory ordinances for the developers' problems, along with poor communication.
"Rob was hired to enforce the ordinances we have," he said. "He's doing what we ask him to do. He's doing the best job he can. He's doing a responsible job. There are ordinances on how to do county business, and some (developers) wish we would throw all the ordinances out the window."
Hunewill expressed support for Loveberg, but want to look into the problems with Lumos.
County Manager Dennis Stark said the purpose of the workshop was to get input from the commissioners, and he got an earful.
All five commissioners said they had heard repeated complaints and anecdotes from developers and builders that the process took too long and cost too much.
Goodman said Fernley city officials expedited one company's permit in 11 days, but doing business in the county takes months and said in business time is money.
"That's the kind of can-do attitude we need to have, instead of looking at every little 'shall,' 'must,' and nickel-and-dime," he said. "Let's get some common sense. Let's get some reality or let's saddle up and get someone else."
Loveberg told the commissioners he appreciated their comments, and called the most recent roundtable discussions with developers productive.
"It gives us a range of things to look at and opportunities and ideas from people," he said, but declined comment on Tibbals' remarks.
Charles Macquarie, CEO for Lumos & Associates and the acting Lyon County engineer for development review said he had received no direct complaints from developers, but declined comment further because he was not at Thursday's meeting.
He added he had no problems working with Loveberg.
Lumos & Associates has acted as Lyon County's engineer for more than 20 years, he said.
Stark said he will have more talks with developers and staff, and will incorporate the commissioners' comments to a final report. He said he was confident the situation can be remedied.
"We don't say we will do everything they (developers) suggest, we say we will listen to them and work with them," he said.
- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or call 881-7351.