Lawsuit seeks to silence group’s opposition to high-density development in Red Rock Canyon
Press Release // Las Vegas, NV – Clark County has filed a preemptive lawsuit against Save Red Rock (SRR), a grassroots conservation organization that has worked for over a decade to protect the rural, recreational and scenic nature of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA). The lawsuit is an attempt to silence SRR’s opposition to a concept plan presented by developer Jim Rhodes’ Gypsum Resources, LLC (Gypsum) that asks the County to rezone land currently deemed rural to a non-conforming high-density zoning. The Gypsum plan includes a 2,010-acre development with more than 5,000 homes on Blue Diamond Hill, located within Red Rock Canyon adjacent to the RRCNCA.
In its lawsuit, Clark County alleges that SRR’s appearances at 2011 public hearings before the Clark County Commissioners where the group voiced its opposition to a Rhodes development proposal prohibits SRR from raising similar concerns regarding Rhodes’ new plan to build Southern Nevada’s third largest city in Red Rock Canyon. SRR has actively opposed previous proposals by developer Jim Rhodes to build thousands of homes in Red Rock Canyon, with hundreds of activists speaking out at public meetings over the years.
“It is unprecedented for Clark County to take the step of suing to silence a conservation organization for trying to protect a natural treasure like Red Rock Canyon,” said Justin Jones, who has been serving as SRR’s pro-bono counsel. “Save Red Rock will not be intimidated by Clark County’s ill-conceived lawsuit and will vigorously fight the County’s efforts in court.”
Consideration of Rhodes’ proposed concept plan was to be considered by the Clark County Commission on December 7, 2016; however, the Commission postponed the hearing to its February 7, 2017, agenda so District F Commissioner Susan Brager and other commissioners could respond to concerns from the community and the community. The Commissioners decided to postpone the hearing, ostensibly to allow for input from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), The Nature Conservancy and other interest groups.
Supporters of SRR expressed concerns during a County Planning Meeting on Oct. 18. The Clark County Planning Commission responded by voting unanimously to deny Gypsum’s proposal for high-density development in Red Rock Canyon. Concerns about the Gypsum project include traffic, light and noise pollution, as well as increasing water costs for all Valley residents. The project proposes a road engineered to accommodate over 44,000 car trips per day from the development to Blue Diamond Road (SR160). There are no plans, however, to improve traffic access to the 215 Beltway via Blue Diamond and Fort Apache Roads, Durango and Buffalo Drives, and Rainbow Boulevard, with the heaviest impact affecting Red Rock Canyon, the Mountain’s Edge community, and Pahrump commuters.
In the lawsuit, Clark County also seeks a judicial determination that it may disregard the unanimous recommendation of its own Planning Commission that the Rhodes proposal should be denied. “Save Red Rock has been a champion for Clark County residents who want to preserve Red Rock Canyon for future generations,” said Heather Fisher, SRR president and co-owner of Las Vegas Cyclery. “It is truly shocking for Clark County to file a lawsuit requesting to prevent Save Red Rock from participating in the public process before the County Commission.”
Gypsum purchased the rural land in 2002 and in 2011 sought approval for high-density zoning from Clark County Commissioners. The developer tried to arrange a land swap agreement with the BLM and the plan expired. Despite support by all levels of government for the land transfer, negotiations fell though. As a result, the developer is once again seeking approval to have the land rezoned for high-density development.
SRR encourages individuals in opposition to the proposed rezoning to sign Save Red Rock’s petition. SRR’s petition currently has over 25,000 signatures from people in Clark County and around the world.
About Save Red Rock
Save Red Rock is a group of concerned citizens working to preserve the safety, serenity, and scenic nature of Red Rock Canyon. The group strives to protect the rural character and prioritize recreational and environmental needs over other uses not conducive to the primary uses as determined for the canyon area.
For more information visit SaveRedRock.com.