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Badlands lawyers go after ‘biased’ Las Vegas city councilmen

An attorney for the developers behind plans to build on the Badlands golf course charge that Councilmen Steve Seroka and Bob Coffin are biased against the developer and they should recuse themselves from future Badlands votes.

Those assertions came in letters from the Hutchison & Steffen law firm sent to the councilmen, who both say they received them on Tuesday.

“Legal action may be instigated as a result of the dispute, which undoubtedly will involve” Coffin, Seroka, Las Vegas Planning Commissioner Christina Roush and the city, one letter states. The letter tells the city to preserve relevant hard copies and electronically stored information.

“We have determined that you have actively impeded the development of the properties through your public comments, including, but not limited to taking the position that following existing law is the ‘stupidest thing in the world in this case,’” the letter to Seroka states.

The City Council, which only had four present members at Wednesday’s council meeting, delayed three applications for putting single-family homes on a swath of the roughly 250-acre Badlands golf course. The council will take those proposals up again May 16. By then, a new Ward 5 council member will be seated following a March special election.

The letters are part of the latest installment of a yearslong clash between the Badlands property owners and neighbors, resulting in a string of development applications and multiple lawsuits. The development fight figured heavily in a high-spending Ward 2 City Council race last year, which landed Seroka on the council.

Mark Hutchison, Nevada’s lieutenant governor, whose law firm now represents developer EHB Cos., contended at Wednesday’s council meeting Seroka has become an advocate against the development.

Seroka’s statements in question were about a previous Badlands development proposal that was “completely different” than the single-family homes the developers are now applying for, City Attorney Brad Jerbic said.

Both letters to the councilmen were titled “your bias and resulting denial of due process.”

The letter to Coffin claims he is biased against EHB Cos. CEO Yohan Lowie.

“Mr. Lowie is a member of the Jewish faith, and you have publicly stated on multiple occasions that he is treating the residents of Queensridge like the Jewish state of Israel allegedly treats the ‘unruly Palestinians,’” the letter states.

(Severiano del Castillo Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Court will decide

Clark County District Court Judge Jim Crockett sided with the Badlands opponents and ruled in January the city “abused its discretion” in approving a developer’s plans for condominiums on the Badlands golf course without a major modification to the master plan. The 435 condominium project the City Council approved last February is the only development proposal to receive council approval.

Todd Bice, an attorney representing Queensridge residents who oppose the plans, said he doesn’t think the “slander” of Seroka and Coffin is a coincidence “now that a judge ruled that the developer bullied the city” into changing the rules.

The developer and the city disregarded “repeated recommendations by (city) staff in the earlier stages, which made it clear that a major modification was a requirement,” Crockett said in a hearing last month.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Wednesday she thinks the ruling will be appealed and will land in the Nevada Supreme Court. The council considered a Badlands development plan in November 2016, and different or delayed applications have been recurring items on agendas since then.

“We said there will be no winner in this unless this is mediated,” Goodman said.

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.

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