84°F
weather icon Clear

Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development — VIDEO

Updated April 17, 2019 - 4:58 pm

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.

Gypsum Resources, LLC — which for at least a decade has tried to advance a development plan on the site of a working gypsum mine — had requested the county consider its plan before the Bureau of Land Management decides on a right-of-way application for access to the project.

“It’s a much more effective process,” project spokesman Ron Krater said. The developer noted that the preliminary plan would offer no entitlements or rights to build.

A timeline approved in 2011 by commissioners, however, dictated that BLM approval must come before review and possible adoption of the specific plan that would address development standards, streetscapes, traffic and other project details. County commissioners on Wednesday were unanimously unwilling to do things out of order. (The specific plan is the second step in the major projects process and precedes a development agreement and land use approval, according to county documents.)

The move ensures commissioners will not reconsider the development until after the BLM’s decision.

Opponents cheer

Opponents of the project welcomed the decision. Heather Fisher, president of Save Red Rock, a grassroots advocacy group that favors preservation of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, called the move “monumental.”

Yet Krater suggested “we haven’t lost a step” due to the decision. Gypsum Resources submitted a draft environmental document to the BLM in late January and the revised right-of-way application in 2017. The developer has spent $500,000 over four years on the process, Krater added.

He said it may even be in the “best interests of the project” to craft the specific plan with input from new commissioners who have joined the board since the plan was submitted last year.

“So I think the time spent between now and getting the right of way would be better spent engaging with this commission and trying to develop a plan that is acceptable to them,” he said.

One of the commissioners, however, is Justin Jones, an attorney who formerly represented Save Red Rock and who has been a consistent opponent of the development.

Before the vote, Jones said he obtained a January opinion from the Nevada Ethics Commission that indicated he would not need to abstain from matters pertaining to Gypsum Resources as long as he disclosed his ties.

Jones insisted that having served as Red Rock’s legal counsel would not preclude him from being fair.

“Despite the Ethics Commission opinion, some have said it would be easier for me to abstain from today’s vote,” he said. “That may be true, but the voters in District F did not elect me to shy from my voting on issues that matter to them, especially not this issue.”

He voted for one waiver to Gypsum Resources that was approved Wednesday: Providing the developer with access to State Route 159 for emergencies and temporarily for construction during the initial phase of development. The access was part of a legal settlement reached between the county and the developer, and doesn’t commit the county to a decision either way on the project.

Full-press opposition

Before Wednesday’s zoning commission meeting, Save Red Rock organized outside the county government center. Roughly 30 members wore red T-shirts. Some, including children, held signs. “Don’t compromise our rural integrity,” one read. “Preserve not destroy,” read another.

Fisher said the group had collected more than 50,000 signatures plus thousands more that came in Tuesday from people pleading to keep Red Rock Canyon rural.

The proposal for mixed-use buildout on 2,010 acres has long been controversial because it is in an area surrounded on three sides by Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Fisher said the number of yearly visitors to Red Rock had tripled to 3 million since the battle over the development began at least a decade ago, underscoring that construction traffic and congestion would only add to the crowding.

“Red Rock needs more space to breathe,” she said. “We need a place to get away from the city.”

Former Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani recalled the development being one of the first agenda items in front of her when she joined the board in 2007.

“I guess my message today is enough is enough,” Giunchigliani said. “More importantly, this is about our community, ecotourism. We can generate economic development in a completely clean, safe, natural way.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
THE LATEST
Clark County official presses Metro for answers about ICE cooperation

While Clark County Commissioners approved 40 supplemental positions for two understaffed jails Tuesday, Commissioner Justin Jones indicated his future support for more hires will be tied to the Metropolitan Police Department clarifying its role in immigration detention.

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.