90°F
weather icon Clear

Clark County upholds Bonnie Springs housing development

Clark County commissioners have upheld plans to build luxury homes at the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch in Red Rock Canyon.

Three days after the 60-year-old Wild West attraction closed for good, commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved the residential portion of the new owner’s development plan, which includes a 20-home gated community. The plan also envisions a public area with a bed and breakfast, restaurant and events center.

Commissioner Justin Jones said he wished the state or county had stepped in to buy Bonnie Springs Ranch and add the land to nearby Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, but neither entity had the “30-odd million dollars” needed to purchase the 64-acre property.

Jones served as counsel for the conservation group Save Red Rock before being elected to the commission. “I’m not interested in creating precedent for development in the Red Rock overlay,” he said, but there didn’t seem to be any legal basis to reject the plan.

If it has to be developed, Jones said, at least it ended up in the hands of a builder with a history of preserving special places in Red Rock and beyond.

Developer plans to be a resident

Developer Joel Laub bought Bonnie Springs Ranch from the children of its late founder, Bonnie Levinson. Laub also serves as Nevada board chairman for The Nature Conservancy, which has played a key role in protecting land from development in Red Rock Canyon in the past.

He said the canyon means a lot to him, and he intends to live in one of the homes he wants to build there.

“I was born in Las Vegas, and I’ve been going out there since Cub Scouts,” Laub said.

But Bonnie Springs Ranch isn’t some pristine patch of unspoiled desert.

“This property has already been disturbed. There’s a cell tower on it and a 50-room hotel,” Laub said. “What’s there now is not environmentally friendly.”

He plans to raze the old buildings and tear out the sewage ponds and other eyesores, replacing it all with a development that better fits within its surroundings.

Laub said he is already consulting with arborists and wildlife experts on a design that will incorporate native plants and encourage rather than block the movement of desert creatures. He also wants to rehabilitate the natural springs on the property — including one he said was dynamited years ago — to restore a vital water source for plants and animals in the area.

The proposal approved by commissioners calls for homes on lots ranging from 2 to 3½ acres. Commissioner Larry Brown noted that the property is actually zoned for more houses than that.

Challenge to commercial component

The residential development won unanimous approval from the Clark County Planning Commission last month. Las Vegas resident Marci Simmons appealed the decision, citing unanswered questions about Laub’s plans for the commercial side of the operation.

“I would only beg the commission to reconsider” the proposed land use, Simmons said.

Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said the item up for review Wednesday only concerned the residential part of the site plan.

After the meeting, Laub said his plan for the part of the development that will be open to the public “does not require county approval through public hearing.”

As for the private side of the development, he said there will be strict design guidelines on the height, style and color of the homes, as well as limits on landscaping and outdoor lighting. To preserve open space, he said, the houses will be restricted to no more than 10 percent of the total lot size, though on 3½ acres that would still allow a 36,900-square-foot mansion.

The old ranch off state Route 159 opened as a tourist attraction in 1958 and featured a train, a wax museum, mock gunfights, horseback riding and a petting zoo. Laub’s attorney, Bob Gronauer, has said the family behind the attraction put the place on the market because they were ready to move on.

After the sale was reported, more than 50,000 people signed an online petition to make Bonnie Springs a historical landmark, and large crowds descended on the attraction through its final weekend of operation.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
THE LATEST
County wants joint meeting on potential funding to CCSD

Clark County commissioners on Tuesday signaled that they were unwilling to commit any dollars from a potential quarter-cent sales tax hike to the school district without first meeting with trustees on a plan and accountability.