Group that includes rich and famous files suit over condo plans

A group of Queensridge homeowners with some well-known names has filed a lawsuit over plans to build thousands of condominiums and apartments where the neighboring Badlands Golf Club now sits.

The group, which includes businessman Jack Binion and gaming lawyer Frank Schreck, filed the complaint Tuesday in District Court in Clark County against Las Vegas and several companies associated with the golf course.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants “have openly sought to circumvent the requirements of state law as well as the city code” to deprive interested parties of notice and an opportunity to be heard.

“This conduct is just part of an overarching campaign to interfere with the legal rights of the homeowners — adjoining property owners in the master-planned development commonly known as Queensridge,” the document alleges.

Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic could not be reached for comment Thursday.

EHB Cos., which developed high-end retail center Tivoli Village, confirmed in September that it had purchased the Badlands Golf Course in the west Las Vegas Valley. The course is managed by Par 4 Golf Management Inc., the company that closed the controversial sale of Silverstone Golf Club around that time.

Yohan Lowie, CEO of EHB, wants to put up 3,000 multifamily housing units along Rampart Boulevard, near Badlands’ eastern edge.

Named as defendants in the Queensridge homeowners’ lawsuit are three limited liability companies that are “ultimately owned and controlled” by Lowie through EHB: Fore Stars Ltd., 180 Land Co. and Seventy Acres.

Lowie could not be reached Thursday. Todd Davis, general counsel of EHB, said through a spokesman that they do not comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, the William Peccole family developed Queensridge, and the master plan “specifically defined the Badlands 18-hole golf course as flood drainage in addition to satisfying the required open space necessitated by the city for master-planned development.”

“The William Peccole family knew that residential development would not be feasible in the flood zone, but as a golf course could be used to enhance the value of the surrounding residential lots.”

A nine-hole golf course was added in the flood zone in 1996.

Around March, according to the lawsuit, the then-principals of Fore Stars sold their ownership interest in Badlands to Lowie and his affiliates.

“Upon information and belief, the purpose of this acquisition was to acquire the golf course property for the purpose of converting it to residential development, including high density uses,” the document states.

The lawsuit claims Lowie and his companies “have sought to camouflage their plans so as to circumvent the legal rights of abutting homeowners.”

Part of their scheme involved having the Las Vegas Planning Department propose an amendment to the city’s master plan, according to the lawsuit. The proposal, which sought to eliminate the density cap on master-planned communities throughout the city, was placed on the Sept. 8 Planning Commission agenda.

“The involvement of Lowie’s companies and agents for them was intended to be kept secret and never disclosed as part of that proposed amendment,” the lawsuit alleges.

In late August, according to the complaint, Fore Stars filed an application with the city seeking to alter the golf course’s designation from park recreation open space to planned community development.

“The defendants’ scheme unraveled at the September 8, 2015 Planning Commission hearing when members of the Queensridge Homeowners Association became aware of Fore Stars’ activities and staff’s complicity in it,” the lawsuit alleges.

The proposed amendment was not approved, and Fore Stars withdrew its August application.

“But, as the plaintiffs would learn, that was not the first or the last time that the city would cooperate with these developers to circumvent public disclosure requirements,” the lawsuit alleges.

On June 18, according to the document, Fore Stars recorded a parcel map with only the certification of Thomas Perrigo, the city’s planning director, and without the public notification and process mandated by state law or the city’s code.

After the parcel map’s unlawful recording, the lawsuit alleges, Fore Stars used the property division outlined in the map to transfer property interests to 180 Land Co. and from 180 Land Co. to Seventy Acres.

On Nov. 30, according to the lawsuit, Seventy Acres filed an application with the city Planning Department for a project named Orchestra Village. Its first phase consists of 17.5 acres on the corner of Alta Drive and Rampart and will include up to 720 condominiums that will be rented as apartments for at least six years.

Attorney Todd Bice, who represents the plaintiffs, said the city “seems to be looking for pathways to get around the homeowners,” and he hopes the litigation will uncover its reasons for doing so.

“This is the first lawsuit to bring an end to that process,” he said. “I don’t know whether it will be the last one.”

Binion, one of the plaintiffs, is the son of the late casino magnate Benny Binion. Plaintiffs also include Robert and Nancy Peccole.

Silverstone Ranch homeowners also have been involved in litigation over plans for the golf course in their community, near Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs in the northwest valley.

Homeowners filed a lawsuit after the course’s new owner, Desert Lifestyles, shut down the golf club and turned off the water in early September. On Wednesday, the company notified the plaintiffs that it had sold the golf course the previous day to Stoneridge Parkway LLC.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer

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