Supreme Court ruling favors subdivision in a scenic area
CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a lower court judge’s order against a subdivision to be built on about 1,600 acres of scenic forest and meadowland in the Clear Creek Canyon area, just south of Carson City.
The high court decision favored developer John Serpa and Douglas County, whose attorneys challenged a decision by Douglas County District Judge Dave Gamble. Gamble had held that the commission’s approval of the controversial project, on part of the old Schneider ranch, was arbitrary.
The Supreme Court ruling went against the Alpine View Estates Property Owners’ Association, whose lawsuit led to Gamble’s ruling.
Alpine View spokesman Ralph Elvik said he was extremely disappointed. Overall, local sentiments supported preservation of the area rather than development. “I thought we were right,” he said. “Most people in the county think we’re right, but so many court decisions favor developers.”
He blames the Douglas County commissioners, who approved both the development in 2003 and an access road critical to that development last April. The access road will cost Douglas County taxpayers millions, Elvik said.
“Republican politicians are there for the developers,” he said. “I think we should try to get a couple of Democrats elected in Douglas County.”
There are no plans to appeal at this time, Elvik said.
Initially approved for about 100 homes, the project was revised and approved for 366 single-family homes, 18 time-share or guest lodges and a private golf course.
Syncon advisor Don Miner said Alpine View’s arguments were not supported by fact. The decision by District Court Judge David Gamble opposing the development was inappropriate and did not abide by state law.
The project affords north Douglas County certain advantages, including improved access for existing homes and a local youth camp, a quality water system, and increased firefighting capabilities.
“These are huge benefits the county can’t afford,” Miner said.
He lauded Douglas County’s engineering and planning staff, who spent two years working on the design and said Syncon will now look at reviewing the project given the market and economy.
Gamble said commissioners failed to make all the findings required to amend the Douglas County master plan. He rejected the argument that the development had to be approved in order to obtain the infrastructure needed to support the project.
The judge also said that if the project faltered, the developer could return and ask for another change, saying the approved project is still not feasible until more building sites are approved.
But the Supreme Court said county commissioners “did exactly what they are charged with doing. They considered a massive amount of evidence, discussed how the project would impact both the surrounding area and the county as a whole, and made the decision that they thought was best.”
Justices added that information provided to commissioners provided more than enough evidence that the project, “although not perfect, was worthy of the requested amendments and development approvals.”
The case was remanded to Judge Gamble with instructions to deny the petition from the Alpine view Estates Property Owners’ Association. The high court order was signed by Justices Michael Douglas, Nancy Becker and Ron Parraguirre.
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