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Seroka's New Mission: Bring Neighbors, Developers Together

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City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas Councilman Steve Seroka, left, and other council members honor 104-year-old Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Downing last month. Seroka, a retired Air Force colonel, says serving veterans is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.

Steve Seroka spent his military career preparing to fight wars around the world. Now the new city councilman works to bring peace to Las Vegas neighborhoods racked by development disputes.

The former Air Force colonel defeated incumbent Councilman Bob Beers last summer in a bitter race in Ward 2, where a developer wants to build homes on the site of a defunct golf course.

The proposal to turn the Badlands Golf Course into a mix of single- and multi-family homes was a major issue in the campaign, with Seroka saying Beers did too little to fight the development plans.

Now as a councilman Seroka is crafting a city ordinance he says will better regulate the repurposing of golf courses and other open spaces in established neighborhoods. He said current statute was written to regulate development in the raw desert, not in the middle of town.

“Our zoning and land use practices are for pristine, open desert — never before developed communities,” Seroka said. “This kind of a development, where we’re talking about developing or repurposing an open space within in a master-planned community that is already completed is unique, and we never before had this kind of a challenge in Las Vegas.”

Seroka proposes creating a public engagement program that requires developers in built-up areas to communicate with neighbors through a series of required meetings, workshops and written reports.

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A formal process, Seroka said, might not leave everyone happy but would nudge the developer, neighbors and municipal government toward “balanced equity” among stakeholders.

Seroka's measure was discussed but not acted on at a Dec. 12 Las Vegas Planning Commission meeting, with staff directed to address concerns expressed by planning commissioners and the public.

Commissioner Louis DeSalvio said he would like to see a firmer definition of "open space" and public engagement criteria based on the size of the proposed development.

"What happens to a person that has an open space of, say, two acres? Are they going to be subjected to all these public meetings and all these reviews? For somebody competing against someone who has 249 acres? I think that's just unfair," he said.

At the meeting, Stephanie Allen, an attorney for the owners of Badlands, spoke in opposition to the ordinance. She said it was unconstitutional to target one property, and that overly burdensome delays cost developers money and discourage development.

Badlands is expected to be back in front of the planning commission and Las Vegas City Council in January.

Guests

Steve Seroka, Las Vegas councilman

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