Suit over Douglas growth initiative moves forward
September 22, 2005
MINDEN – The Sustainable Growth Initiative court case could proceed, following a Supreme Court ruling that it will hear the backers’ full appeal.
The case has been stalled in the courts for more than two years.
The initiative limits the number of housing starts in Douglas County to 280 a year, and was approved by voters in the 2002 election. Numerous challenges to the initiative have held it up in the courts but with this ruling, that could change.
John Garvin, spokesman for the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee, said the decision could mean a quicker resolution to the issue, which was appealed to the Supreme Court about 21Ú2 years ago.
“The Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee is pleased that the Supreme Court denied the county’s motion to dismiss and the matter can now go forward on all three issues before the court,” Garvin said. “We anticipate the matter to be scheduled for oral argument in the near future.”
Following approval of the initiative, the measure was appealed to district court, where Judge Michael Gibbons ruled against it. Gibbons’ decision was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
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According to a Supreme Court show-cause order issued in early July, only one of three claims addressed in the order prepared by Gibbons was up for review, that is, whether the initiative conflicts with the master plan.
The constitutionality of the Growth Initiative, and whether implementing it would require an amendment to the initiative, were the other two points under consideration.
Lack of a ruling by Gibbons on those two points delayed a Supreme Court appeal, but that issue was resolved in July, when Gibbons dismissed those arguments as moot.
Douglas County officials also filed a separate motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, but in a July decision signed by Senior Justices Miriam Shearing and Deborah Agosti and Justice Robert E. Rose, that motion was denied.
and the appeal has been allowed to proceed.
The initiative has a rocky history.
The idea of limiting growth to 280 homes was first challenged in 2002 by Nevada Northwest LLC, a company that had received approval for a new 376-home development.
The matter proceeded to a bench trial on August 14, 2002 where the district court concluded the initiative is administrative, not legislative, and enjoined its placement on the ballot.
Following approval by the voters of the Sustainable Growth Initiative in November of 2002, Douglas County joined a number of local entities, including Jumpers LLC, Century 21 Clark Properties Inc., and the Douglas County Building Industry Association, charging District Court correctly invalidated SGI because of its inconsistency with the master plan.
“Nevada’s constitution reserves to the people the power to propose, by initiative petition, statues and amendments to statutes and the constitution, and to enact or reject them at the polls,” said representatives supporting the initiative.