What Did The Vote On Housing Near Red Rock Really Mean?
Hundreds of people showed up at a Clark County Commission meeting this week to protest a plan for a high-density housing development near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Over the seven-hour meeting, some spoke in favor, but the majority were opposed, including Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D) - NV. The proposal even drew some star power. An attorney who represents rock bands The Killers and Imagine Dragons spoke on their behalf against the idea.
In the end, the commission voted in favor, 5-2.
That vote has angered people who fear suburban sprawl taking over one of Southern Nevada’s most beloved areas. But what exactly did they vote on?
County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told KNPR’s State of Nevada that the commission did not “approve one home, one street light, one store, one road going into Blue Diamond Hill or Red Rock for that matter.” He said the commissioners voted to let the developer Jim Rhodes withdraw his 2016 plan for the site, which essentially sets the clock back to 2011.
The story of that plan is complicated. It has wound its way through court for several years and some people at the meeting thought the 2011 plan was expired, which is part of the problem, according Desert Companion’s staff writer Heidi Kyser.
“I think one thing that could help allay the public’s fears and confusion would be better transparency on the part of the county,” Kyser said. “I think people’s confusion is understandable.”
She believes the county could do more to explain what is going on and provide documents related to the development to the public.
Save Red Rock attorney Justin Jones agreed that the county needs to be more transparent. He said meeting agendas published Wednesday did not include information on whether the 2011 plan was still in play.
Jones also believes the commission had a chance on Wednesday to the kill the 2016 concept plan.
“I think the commissioners had an opportunity on Wednesday to do the right thing and turn down the proposal that was before them,” he said.
Commissioner Sisolak disagrees. He is concerned that if the county turned down a plan that was approved in 2011, a judge could turn around and say the county was not acting in good faith, allowing the developer to put even more homes on Blue Diamond Hill.
“It is my very strong feeling that the five commissioners who voted to accept the withdrawal are really the ones trying to protect Red Rock,” he said, “because if we get to control this, we get to say what they get to use as an exit – 159 or 160 – we get to say what the density is, we get to say what the lighting is and the amenities…”
According to Sisolak, the county can’t stop Rhodes from building homes entirely. All the county can hope to do is curtail how many homes are built, keeping the area rural, or go back to a plan floated a few years ago to negotiate a land swap between the Bureau of Land Management and the developer.
Jones said his group would be happy to be part of that effort, if the developer was part of the negotiations.
“I would be happy to join with Commissioner Sisolak so long as the developer sets aside his plan to build homes up there,” he said. “If he’s willing to again set aside whatever plan it is that’s going forward and work with Commission Sisolak and I towards convincing the BLM that this is something that needs to be protected I’m happy to do that.”
From Desert Companion: The Red Rock punt
Steve Sisolak, commissioner, Clark County Commission; Justin Jones, attorney, Save Red Rock; Heidi Kyser, staff writer, Desert Companion