Washoe County commissioners vote 3-2 to remove planning commissioner

This is a screenshot of the video playback of the Washoe County Board of Commission hearing on...
This is a screenshot of the video playback of the Washoe County Board of Commission hearing on Planning Commission member Thomas Daly.(KOLO)
Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 6:20 PM PDT
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The Washoe County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to remove a county planning commission member who spoke against a development and wrote a newspaper opinion piece critical of the development before voting on it.

“I do believe what is most bothersome here is there is no contrition,” Commissioner Kitty Jung said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Thomas Daly made comments about the 20.1-acre Colina Rosa subdivision proposed for the unincorporated area of the Mount Rose Highway at an April 19 planning commission meeting, before it was voted upon, and then amplified his comments in an April 24 opinion piece in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Washoe County staff asked Daly to recuse himself from voting on the Colina Rosa subdivision when the planning commission considered it again on May 3. Daly voted, casting one of two votes in opposition. The planning commission approved it 5-2.

Speaking to the commission on Tuesday, Daly said the public knew little about the project, which is proposed for Edmonton Drive area. He said he hoped to generate more interest with the opinion piece. He called it the largest development on the Mount Rose Highway since he moved to the area in 2006.

Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey wondered why Daly didn’t bring it to the attention of county staff if he felt it needed more attention.

“It’s not a planning commissioner’s job to go out in the court of public opinion and attempt to stir up opposition,” Deputy District Attorney Nathan Edwards told commissioners.

Attorney Mark Gunderson, representing Daly, argued to commissioners that the only grounds for removing him were inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance and none of those existed in this case. “Misjudgments are not malfeasance,” Gunderson said.

Had the planning commission voted down the development there was a basis for a “custom-made lawsuit” by Colina Rosa developers, commissioners were warned, since there was a strong argument they were not given due process.

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung called Daly’s action venial, suggesting it was forgivable, and cautioned removing him from the planning commission could be a slippery slope for disciplining planning commission members in the future.

Commissioners were told that their only options were removal or do nothing. Other options, like censure, were not allowed by law.

Gunderson did not return a call seeking comments on what Daly’s next steps might be. Washoe County government had no comment on the matter.