Las Vegas Sun

July 25, 2014

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WEEK IN REVIEW: CLARK COUNTY:

Like it or not, condo project going up at mountain

Mount Charleston residents fiercely protested a condominium project on Kyle Canyon Road during last week’s Clark County zoning meeting.

County commissioners said they disliked the project, too. Then they voted to approve it.

That doesn’t make sense. Why would they do that?

Such are the ways of county government, especially one where four former commissioners are doing time in federal prison for their roles in a bribery scheme.

Here’s the deal. The developers of the project, Stan and Linda Zurawski, want to build a condominium building. It would be about 60 feet tall and could have up to 72 units.

Isn’t that a tad big for Mount Charleston?

Residents of the mountain think so. They say the project is too tall, too close to the two-lane road and will create too great a demand on fire and police resources. Most developments on the mountain have been restricted to 35 feet in height. Residents fear the project will ruin the mountain’s ambience, obstruct scenic views and cast shadows on the highway that will prevent thawing and create dangerously icy conditions.

Commissioners seemed to agree with the general sentiment of the residents. Commissioner Chip Maxfield said he’d like to see a different project and Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who owns a home on Mount Charleston, said the proposed development was inappropriate.

So what happened?

Turns out the debate was over before it began. Commissioners approved the building’s height, number of units and zoning more than a decade ago during a controversial 4-3 vote.

Since then, three commissioners have been convicted of unrelated public corruption charges and one is under police investigation for her campaign spending. Also, the family of prominent developer Irwin Molasky was involved with the project then.

The only issue left for commissioners to sign off on was the project’s hillside impact. County law requires developers in certain hilly areas to prove their projects are safe from an engineering and environmental point of view. In this case, county planners and the developer’s engineer agreed the project passed muster. The county’s attorney told commissioners they had little choice but to approve the project or risk an easy-to-lose lawsuit.

“I don’t do it happily,” Maxfield said of his support for the project.

So basically, Mount Charleston residents got a bum deal because of a questionable vote by a group of questionable past commissioners?

Right. Five commissioners voted to approve it Wednesday. Giunchigliani and Commissioner Tom Collins voted against it.

Speaking of bum deals, what do I do if I think I got ripped off by Republic Services?

Several readers have called the Sun with that question after reading about Giunchigliani’s recent experiences with the garbage company.

The commissioner took trash from a kitchen remodeling project to one of the Republic’s transfer stations, where garbage trucks dump their loads before tractor trailers haul them to Apex landfill 20 miles north of town.

Residents of single-family homes who pay a Republic bill are allowed to dump their trash at any Republic disposal site for free. But the company told Giunchigliani she had to pay a fee or take the garbage to Apex. She paid the fee, but later had county staff look into it. They found the ordinance Republic used to justify the fee doesn’t exist.

Republic said it would take care of the problem, but a few days later Giunchigliani tried to drop off another load and again was told she had to pay. In addition to undercutting the $15,000 in political contributions that Republic has given Giunchigliani, the company was also violating county law.

Now Republic is offering refunds to other residents who may have been improperly charged. Just so you know, if you show a current Republic bill and photo identification, you can drop off any kind of garbage from your home at the company’s transfer stations — even dirt, rocks and concrete. The company can’t charge you a fee or make you take it to Apex.

If you think Republic owes you a refund, here’s the phone number to call: 599-5557.

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