District Court Judge Michael Villani ruled in favor of Fontainebleau Las Vegas Friday, saying a 23-story convention center and parking lot being built next to the exclusive Turnberry Place high-rise condos was legally approved by the Clark County Commission.
A group of residents sued the developer for allegedly violating Title 30, a county land use application that requires buildings adjacent to residential properties to have a three-foot setback for every foot of vertical construction.
Turnberry is building the Fontainebleau resort on the site of the former El Rancho hotel. Turnberry President Jeff Soffer said development of the parking structure is allowed under the area’s zoning, which is H-1 (hotel and gaming).
“The interpretation favored by the county and Fontainebleau is consistent with the spirit of the code,” Villani said in his ruling.
Attorney J.T. Moran, representing a group of residents, said Villani is relatively new to the bench and may not have clearly understood Title 30.
“It’s just getting to the right channels,” he said. “This is more of a formality in getting our arguments to the Supreme Court of Nevada. The Supreme Court is going to take a look at this because there are blatant violations of law.”
Moran said Title 30 requires a 3-to-1 setback regardless of zoning. Furthermore, he said, the county violated the development agreement by failing to publish an amendment notifying property owners the structure’s height was being raised from 175 feet to 250 feet.
Residents have scheduled a meeting with their lawyer to review the case. They said the “wheels have been turning” and they knew the next step would be going to the Supreme Court.
“I guess we lost the battle, but not the war … yet,” said Julie Stapleton, a third-floor resident at Turnberry’s tower one who’s about 90 feet from the garage.
Residents, most of whom paid upward of $500,000 for their condos, say it’s not about blocking their views of the Strip, but quality-of-life issues that will have to be addressed in other areas of the valley if developers skirt the law.
Villani said the interpretation proposed by petitioners could place an “ureasonable burden” upon development within H-1 zoning.
Turnberry Place is a multifamily dwelling, not a single-family dwelling, he wrote.
“Accordingly, pursuant to the plain language of the Clark County Code, there is no 3:1 height setback requirement for improvements adjacent to Turnberry Place,” he said.
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0491.