The fight over land near Red Rock National Conservation Area, where developer Jim Rhodes wants to build thousands of homes, is far from over.
The latest is a legal counterclaim filed this week by Save Red Rock alleging among several things that the Clark County Commission violated state open meetings laws.
Desert Companion staff writer Heidi Kyser reviewed the details of the claim in a recent blog post for the magazine.
From Desert Companion: Save Red Rock’s latest move against Rhodes-affiliated development: back to court
Essentially, Save Red Rock wants a judge to rule on a number of contentious issues surrounding the development.
“It’s more than just the open meeting law violation,” Kyser said, “There’s several different claims. The big one is that Gypsum Resources’ 2011 concept plan isn’t actually valid as the county commission on the advice of its attorney said it was.”
Opponents of the plan to build homes on Blue Diamond Hill are unhappy with the county for saying several different times that a development plan approved in 2011 was invalid and then saying it was valid.
“I think we’re entitled to rely on what the county said over and over and over again in public statements with regards to expiration of the plan,” said attorney for Save Red Rock Justin Jones.
But for the developers, which plan was valid and which plan was not, is of no consequence.
“From our perspective, this is a non-issue,” spokesman for the developer Ron Krater said.
Krater contends that whether its the 2011 or the 2016 plan they're the same essentially with only a few minor changes. He said the 2016 plan was created after four years of failed attempts to swap the land with the Bureau of Land Management.
“The primary reasoning for going back and filing a new plan and going through the 2016 concept process, from our perspective, is that enough time had passed that everyone felt that it would be in the best interest of the process to begin that process over again and bring that concept plan back through the very public process of identifying the issues and describing the nuances of that plan and the details of the plan,” he said.
Krater said the developers felt like there were other stakeholders that needed to be part of the discussions, which is why the second plan was created.
While a judge will ultimately decide many of the issues between Save Red Rock, Clark County and Gypsum Resources, Krater said homes will be built on Blue Diamond Hill.
"At some point in time, it's going to transition from a strip mine to residential community," Krater said, noting that the area is "not pristine" and not nature.
It has been used for strip mining gypsum for 80 years.
Krater brushed off the idea that without the proposed 5,000 homes density the project isn't viable. He said even under the 1,200 homes it is currently zoned for the developer could offset infrastructure cost by selling very expensive high-end homes
Critics have also said the solution is swapping Blue Diamond Hill with land managed by the BLM. Krater said a land swap isn't possible.
"Ultimately, the BLM decided it did not meet any of its criteria required for any sort of an acquisition or land exchange," he said, "We've been down that path."
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Steve Yeager, (D) - Dist. 9, has introduced a bill that would prevent local government from changing zoning to increase housing density within five miles of any national conservation area.
Justin Jones believes if that bill does pass and it is signed by the governor it will stop the development.
Heidi Kyser, reporter, Desert Companion magazine; Ron Krater, spokesman for Gypsum Resources, developer; Justin Jones, attorney, Save Red Rock