Thursday, Dec. 23, 2004 | 11:06 a.m.
The man in charge of Las Vegas' economic development division resigned last week, two days after City Councilman Lawrence Weekly accused city staff of misleading a developer to believe their proposed high rises would surely be approved by the council.
City Manager Doug Selby would not say whether Friday departure's of Economic Development Manager Doug Lein was related to the flare up over a project proposed by Atlanta-based Ambling Development Co.
Selby acknoweledged, however, that Lein had worked with Ambling on Ambling's project, and as economic development manager Lein managed projects coming to the city and helped guide developers through the city's approval process.
Lein's last day at City Hall was Friday, and he will be on paid administrative leave until Jan. 16, Selby said. Selby would not say why he decided to pay Lein -- whose annual salary is $82,678 -- for an additional four weeks, or whether the paid leave was the result of a negotiation or incentive to get Lein to resign. Lein, a city employee since October 1997, could not be reached for comment this morning. A message left at his home was not returned.
On Dec. 15, the council voted 5-0 to reject Ambling's proposal to build three 28-story condominium buildings near the intersection of Alta Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Councilman Michael Mack abstained from the discussion because of conflicts of interest and were not present for the vote.
Before the vote, Weekly criticized city staff for misleading Ambling representatives to believe council approval for their project was "a done deal." Weekly noted that Ambling had already spent more than $2 million on the project.
On Wednesday, Selby said he believed no city employee intentionally misled Ambling representatives, but that instead the matter was the result of misinterpreted enthusiasm.
He said the employee or employees involved were with the Office of Business Development, but he would not identify anyone involved or say whether or not any disciplinary action was taken.
Economic Development is a division within the city's Office of Business Development.
As a result of the Ambling misunderstanding, Selby said he and Scott Adams, director of the Office of Business Development, discussed the need to temper employees' enthusiasm in the future so that approval of a project "is not represented to be easier than it might be."
Adams and Selby also agreed to brief council members on major projects earlier. Weekly had also complained that he found out about the project later than he would have liked.
Weekly was not in his office this morning and could not be reached for comment.
Ambling representatives reached at their Atlanta offices this morning refused to comment on the matter.
Previously, Ambling officials said they met with city officials, including Weekly, during the weeks and months prior to the council vote, and said the city officials encouraged them every step of the way.
Weekly has said he met with Ambling representatives a few months ago and told them their proposed project was beautiful, but said they needed to meet with neighbors of the land they intended to build on.
The council rejected the plan after hearing from neighbors who said they feared the impact on traffic, and schools, as well as having the large buildings tower over nearby homes and backyards. Those who spoke in opposition to the project included former Clark County School Board member Lois Tarkanian and District Judge Donald Mosley.