Carson City Montessori School permit OK’d; extended stay motels discussed

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The Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a two-year special use permit for Carson Montessori School after hearing the school’s appeal of a Planning Commission decision denying a permit.

The school applied for the SUP to expand into adjacent property for use as an exploratorium and testing lab for state-mandated testing.

But the school on Mouton Drive and the expansion site behind it on Conestoga Drive are both on property zoned Light Industrial.

When the school was established there in 2006, schools were allowed in those zones but have since been prohibited.

The existing school can remain indefinitely, but it now wants to expand rather than bus its students to an off-site location for testing, which requires an SUP.

“We may make a Solomon’s decision for lack of a better word,” said Mayor Bob Crowell.

The meeting room was overflowing with parents and students ready to advocate for the school, but the board made it clear from the start it was willing to consider a limited permit that would give the school time to move to a new location in Carson City.

The only public comment was given by two nearby business and property owners who said they were opposed to the expansion.

“I’ve been told for the last eight years that they’re moving. My property values have gone down, my tenants don’t use their parking because of the kids,” playing nearby, said Cary Kaifesh. “There is a lot of truck traffic in the area.”

Ryan Russell, an attorney with Allison MacKenzie representing the school, said the school was growing and wanted to move, and if the board decided to approve a limited SUP it would serve as an impetus.

“The message will be heard loud and clear,” he said.

The board decided to approve a two-year permit, with multiple conditions, and required the school to update the board in one year on its efforts to find a new location.

The vote was 4-0 with Supervisor Karen Abowd abstaining because her daughter teaches at the school.

The supervisors also heard a report on the code enforcement program for the city’s extended stay motels.

The city last year assembled a team of inspectors from the building, code, fire and health departments to begin inspecting properties on Carson Street that have received multiple complaints and law enforcement calls.

So far, they’ve inspected four motels and issued two misdemeanor citations, said Lee Plemel, Community Development director.

Some of the property owners have been cooperative and are actively working on fixing the issues found, he said, and emergency calls to the motels have been cut in half.

Plemel’s presentation included photos of rooms showing health hazards such as mold, fire hazards such as exposed wiring, and general dilapidation.

“Some of these pictures are pretty devastating,” said Crowell. “They are mentally and morally disturbing. I get property rights but you have to have some understanding of what you’re doing to other people.”

The board discussed several options for moving forward, including imposing the transient occupancy tax, which is now collected only on stays under 28 days, or eliminating extended stays.

Most of the board discussion, though, was about suspending or revoking the business licenses of non-compliant businesses, and how that would affect tenants at the motels.

The main concern is finding new homes for the residents.

Mary Jane Ostrander, division manager, Health and Human Services, said the city would either place them in rooms at other motels or assist in finding apartments, which are in short supply. She also said displacement of tenants at more than one property at a time would be difficult to handle.

Two property owners and one manager spoke during public comment, saying they provide a place for the elderly and disabled to live. They said they supported enforcement and license revocation of the worst offenders, but didn’t support a room tax or changes to extended stay code.

“Limiting stays would affect legislators and lobbyists,” said Dwight Millard, owner of the Carson City Plaza Hotel. “That should come completely off the table.”

The board voted to continue the program as is and to consider just cause proceedings for non-complying motels in which the motel would have to show just cause why its business license shouldn’t be suspended or revoked.

The board also approved an ordinance for issuing temporary business licenses to recreational marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facilities, and distributors; passed a resolution amending the number of allocated residential building permits for 2018 and 2019; and directed staff to craft new lease agreements for tenants at the city-owned Northgate Complex.


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