Court date set for growth-cap arguments |

Court date set for growth-cap arguments

Scott Murphy, Tribune News Service

An Aug. 14 court hearing could determine whether Douglas County residents get a chance to vote in November on the Sustainable Growth Initiative.

The SGI committee’s lawyer, Patty Cafferata, said Thursday she will be the lone attorney arguing during the hearing that the growth cap initiative should remain on November’s ballot.

If voters approve the ballot initiative Nov. 5, housing construction in Carson Valley would be limited to 280 new dwelling units per year.

Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle said Gamble could rule on the issue after the hearing’s conclusion or take it under advisement and decide later.

Doyle represents the county, which was sued last week along with the SGI committee by a Minden casino developer. Doyle agrees with the position outlined by the developer, Nevada Northwest, LLC.

Doyle does not dispute Nevada Northwest’s claims that voters shouldn’t determine zoning issues such as building permit allocations.

The state Legislature has decreed, and has been supported by the judicial system, that county commissioners control zoning issues, including building allocation limits like the growth cap, Doyle said.

Cafferata said she was surprised to learn she’s the only attorney defending the growth cap initiative.

“(Doyle’s) supposed to be in opposition” to Nevada Northwest, Cafferata said. “I was quite surprised to see his response.”

The Douglas District Court hearing before Judge David Gamble will feature oral arguments about the Sustainable Growth Initiative lawsuit. Cafferata expects to file a response Aug. 12 to the lawsuit.

Sustainable Growth Committee Co-Chair John Garvin said Doyle left it to his group to carry the challenge through court.

“The county has kind of rolled over,” Garvin said Friday.

A halfDday of arguments is scheduled to start Aug. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

The county’s position on the legality of the SGI committee’s actions changed in late July when a court decision was issued on the Fuji Park case in Carson City, Doyle said. When the SGI process started, the issue was considered appropriate for elections.

The latest court decision means it’s now appropriate for courts to disallow zoning initiatives prior to voters’ casting ballots, Doyle said.

Initiatives are the wrong way to handle zoning, Doyle said.

“You can’t zone by initiative,” Doyle said.

Garvin said regardless of Gamble’s ruling, the matter will likely be appealed on a fast-track basis to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Garvin added court rulings surrounding Fuji Park in Carson City have “emasculated” Nevada’s initiative process.

“We’re not happy with that direction,” Garvin said.

Also, Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Reed wrote in an affidavit she must know the initiative’s status by Sept. 17 to have sample ballots printed before the state’s Sept. 26 deadline.

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