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Council Rejects New Building Codes-Video
Posting Date: 10/10/2012

By Barbara Ellestad


As outspoken as the Council was two weeks ago, they were silent Tuesday, Oct. 9, when they voted 4-0 to deny adoption of new building codes that would create more stringent requirements for energy conservation in new commercial and residential construction and remodeling.

The code changes seemed to be on their way towards passage at the Sept. 25 meeting when Councilman Geno Withelder abruptly raised objections to them.

The ordinance change would have incorporated amendments to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code that went into effect July 1 throughout the State.

"What would be the outcome if we did not vote on this bill to accept it and make it part of our municipal code," Withelder asked Kurt Sawyer, Development Services Director at the Sept. 25 meeting. "What penalties would we face? What sanctions would we have? Who would impose them? Why are we forced to adopt this in these economic times? Who says we have to do this?"

Withelder said at the time that the changes would increase the cost of construction.

See Mesquite Citizen Journal story Council Erupts Over New Building Code Mandate-Video

Sawyer took Withelder's questions to the Director of the Nevada State Office of Energy, Stacey Crowley. According to a memo from Sawyer to the Council and Mayor, dated Oct. 3, Crowley advised that "currently the law does not allow for penalties, but an update to the law is being brought to the legislature that does allow for penalties to be assessed."

See Sawyer's memo by clicking here

Dave Ballweg, local businessman, was the only member of the public who spoke during the public hearing portion of the agenda item. "At the last meeting, I voiced my opposition to this and I thank you for reconsidering this. There have been some public comments made that we would start building substandard buildings or buildings that were not energy efficient. That's the farthest thing from the truth," Ballweg said.

"The 2006 code stays in effect and they have extremely strenuous (requirements for) insulation, lighting, controls, and energy efficiency in them. This will not in any way create a substandard structure in Mesquite," Ballweg told the Council.

"We have to stop the incremental auto-pilot for regulations that come down from above and just pass through. They come down to us and we feel like we don't have any type of recourse. This affects all cities, not just Mesquite," he concluded.

Councilman Kraig Hafen requested a clarification from Kurt Sawyer, Development Services Director, on a statement in the memo that said Staff was recommending Council disapprove the code changes. That contradicted the official formal agenda item cover sheet that said Staff was recommending adoption of the codes. "The memo came in after we did the cover sheet," Sawyer explained.

Just before the vote, Hafen asked City Attorney Cheryl Hunt "is it better to make a motion or let it die for lack of one?" Hunt replied, "it's better to make a motion and get a vote if possible so it's on the record. But if Council chooses to let it die with no motion, that can happen as well."

Hafen then made a motion to not adopt the new building codes at the present time. Four Councilmen voted in favor of the motion. Councilman Karl Gustaveson abstained from the vote saying, "I choose not to vote on this particular item. I understand what the concern is."

"Ultimately, we are going to have to vote on it. I took an oath when I was sworn in, to follow the laws of the community, the State, and the Federal government. This is a State law at this time. Because of that, I would like to have it on the record that I abstained from voting on it," Gustaveson said.

City Manager Andy Barton received approval of two proposals he brought to the City Council. The first was to conduct a bus tour of sites related to future Council policy decisions including a new City Cemetery site, the Mesquite Sports and Events Center for maintenance issues, the proposed site of I-15 Exit 118, proposed demolition of houses, the E. Mesquite Blvd river levy, and properties with historical value.

Barton will use two free Silver Rider buses to carry the Council, Staff, and public on the tour. No date has been set for the tour.

The second proposal is to hold a strategic planning retreat for the Council and City Staff at Fire Station #3 on the west side of the City.

"Retreat can be a negatively charged word but essentially this will be an extended workshop," Barton explained to the Council. "The

purpose is to have Council set goals, somewhere between four and six. My hope is that this will be a practical workshop. I'm not interested in wasting anyone's time. This will be a positive thing for the community and Staff. Staff can use the direction from Council on where you want to go. We can help you get there."

Randy Robison, former government lobbyist for the City, will be the facilitator for the retreat that will be open to the public. Council voted 5-0 to approve Barton's request.

"Staff will also do a follow-up report card about six months later to let Council and Staff know how we're doing in terms of meeting the goals set by Council," Barton commented.

The Council unanimously approved without discussion a request from Eureka Casino and Hotel to convert one of its billboards located near I-15 on the east side of Mesquite to an electronic LED display under a conditional use permit.

Three agenda items were introduced at the Council meeting pertaining to vacation home rentals in the City. Prior to their introduction, Councilmen Withelder and Al Litman removed themselves from the dais saying they each had a conflict of interest because they owned rental homes. Councilman George Rapson declared that even though he was a real estate agent he did not feel he had a conflict with hearing the agenda items.

City Attorney Hunt explained that with three remaining Councilmen "State Law declares that it has to be a majority of the voting Council. In order for these (agenda items) to pass, it has to be three (Councilmen) voting for them. The Mayor is not allowed to vote unless there's a tie. There won't be in this case."

One of the ordinance changes, if approved, will add "Transient Lodging Establishments and Vacation Home Rentals" as a permitted use and a conditional use in the City Codes.

If that passes, a new chapter in the Business License regulations titled "Vacation Home Rental Units," will be considered for adoption.

The third item amends Municipal Codes to allow and require the collection of room taxes for vacation home rentals.

Richard Secrist, Senior Planner on City Staff explained that "There is a three-fold purpose behind these amendments to the Unified Development Code: First to comply with NRS 268.0195 regarding the duty to establish definition of 'transient lodging;' second, to specify where transient lodgings and vacation home rental units may be allowed; and third to establish some general standards for these uses that apply in all zones in which they are permitted."

The current City codes do not permit short-term rental units on a daily or weekly basis in residential zones. However, homeowners in various areas around the town operate under the radar and rent their homes or condos on a short term basis. The issue came to a head in the Spring when other neighbors began complaining to the Councilmen about noise, traffic, and trash issues that arose from the vacation-type renters.

All three ordinance changes will be scheduled for a public hearing at the Oct. 23 Council meeting after which the councilors will discuss and consider adopting them.

Mayor Mark Wier reported on his attendance at the Nevada League of Cities meeting held the previous weekend in Elko, NV. "The municipalities meet once a year and coordinate our efforts. One of the biggest things to come out of this is that the Mayors of every city, along with the Chairs of the counties, are now meeting on a regular basis. We can then meet with the Legislators and talk to them about matters that come in front of our cities. We can talk about unfunded mandates and other things that come from our State."

"We discussed the C-tax (consolidated tax) in detail. The cities are all pretty much on the same page. We're going forward as a group to solve the problems that we face. Hopefully the Legislators will listen a bit more."

The C-tax is the main funding source for the City. Distributions of tax receipts are made by the State government under a C-tax formula that was established in the 1990s. Some legislators have promised to revise the formula in the next Legislative session. It's unclear whether Mesquite's portion of the funding will increase, decrease, or stay relatively the same.

City Athletics Director Bryan Dangerfield reported that the annual RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship that kicks off Oct 17-25 will no longer be held in Mesquite after this year. "The community is invited to come out and see the 17th and, I'm sorry to say, the last time the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship will be held in Mesquite." He did not provide details on why the golf competition is leaving the City where it's been held since 1995.


  • Posted Date: 10/10/2012
    So, we build a multi-million dollar facility for the Long Drivers using county taxpayer money, donate more money from city coffers each year (around $50,000/yr) in a bribe to keep them here, and they leave anyway? Good riddance to this collection of privileged, money-grubbing thugs. Since we already have the facility (masquerading as 5 rarely-used soccer fields), we should go ahead and develop a competing Long Drive competition. We know how, we have the location, we have the connections...let's do it!
    By: Tyrese
  • Posted Date: 10/10/2012
    Time to stop using tax dollars for this type of activity. No more using my money to promote private businesses. Let's tighten the city belt and stop spending unless absolutely necessary.
    By: bobbiethompson
  • Posted Date: 10/10/2012
    The Long Drive is leaving because the 'Local Coffers' are refusing to fund it, saying that there is no benefit for the City... Sure, take away the cheapest advertising we get out of it: Millions watch this event every Christmas, and wonder what the heck this 'Mesquite, NV' is, get curious and log on to the internet to research it... then, they realize it's a cheaper version of Vegas (without the young partiers) and more relaxed, come here and pour money into the businesses that are barely hanging on. Today, it's 'Goodbye Long Drive' and tomorrow, it will be 'Goodbye Mesquite' unless this town gets its head out of the sand and does some responsible, common sense marketing and cleanup...
    By: JustSayin
  • Posted Date: 10/10/2012
    As the gang that couldnt shoot straight is rebeling against Federal Energy mandates, I commend them, our Council on its newfound unity, even, when wrong. Gustaveson, the lone dissentwith with second thoughts , sheeplishly acknowledged, he is obligated to uphold all laws, Federal and State. The rest a just dont know it yet. That schooling may come in the form of a law suit. A quagmire, our City will trudge through, and much more expensive than a few rolls of insulation.
    By: plain ol Doug
  • Posted Date: 10/12/2012
    How come everything Dangerfield touches turns to crap? May finally be time to replace him. I totally agree with JstSayin.
    By: Mesquite where?
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