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Las Vegas City Council nixes another Badlands debate

Updated August 2, 2017 - 7:28 pm

A divided Las Vegas City Council shot down the latest plans to develop the shuttered Badlands golf course on Wednesday, leaving the future of the proposed development unclear after two years of wrangling between the developer and opponents.

After hours of debate and a push for yet another 30-day delay aimed at reaching a compromise, the council voted 4-3 to deny the most recent set of plans.

The developers are disappointed after spending so much time working “to reach an accord to develop the property in a manner that’s compatible to the surrounding homes,” said attorney Jim Jimmerson, who represents developer EHB Cos.

Jimmerson declined to comment on what the future holds for the 250-acre former golf course, which stopped operating late last year.

The developers could, in theory, return to the city with different plans to develop the course.

The proposal called for 2,169 residential units spread across the 250-acre course, including 65 single-family lots on roughly 180 acres, and a nongaming boutique hotel.

Some homeowners from surrounding developments including Queensridge and Tudor Park have railed for nearly two years against plans for residential development at City Hall, at community meetings and in court documents. Largely upscale homes line the former course, where once-lush fairways are dry and a yellowish-brown since the water was turned off earlier this summer.

“I believe a majority of the council succumbed to the political pressure of a few dissenting neighbors,” Jimmerson said.

New Ward 2 Councilman Steve Seroka made the motion to deny the plans Wednesday, and Councilman Bob Coffin, Councilman Stavros Anthony and Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian joined him in jettisoning the plans.

City officials saw three proposals in the past seven days, and Seroka said he wanted to give the residents a chance to digest and comment on the plans.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwoman Michele Fiore advocated for a 30-day delay rather than an outright denial.

Early in the meeting, Fiore implored stakeholders to “put your egos away for a minute and give us 30 days.”

Both Fiore and Goodman expressed concern that if EHB Cos. pulls out of the property entirely, the neighboring developments could ultimately be worse off.

In a last-minute maneuver, Goodman said she directed City Attorney Brad Jerbic on Tuesday to reach out to attorneys for the developers and opponents to ask them to “stand down” for 30 days and delay any litigation or legal action during that time.

“You were making progress,” Goodman said. “And every time we’d have one of our council meetings, the anger, the animosity, the hate — it was revolting to me.”

Goodman continued to push for agreement between the two sides, noting they seemed closer before the June 21 council meeting at which the council delayed action on the development agreement and Yohan Lowie, CEO of EHB Cos., threatened to stop watering the course and sell the land.

The water at the course was later turned off, and unlike with the shuttered Silverstone Golf Course in the city’s northwest Ward 6, the city cannot legally require the owners of the Badlands property to turn the water back on, Jerbic said.

A fundamental disagreement persisted throughout Wednesday’s four-hour session on Badlands over whether developing the shuttered course would boost or destroy the surrounding area. Shauna Hughes, attorney for the Queensridge development homeowners association, said the problem has always been too much residential density.

“I’ve gone to meeting after meeting after meeting at your direction, and no progress was made,” Hughes said.

The council has been fractured in all its votes on proposal to develop the Badlands golf course, but this year’s city election swung the outcome. The Badlands issue weighed heavily in that race, driving much of the rhetoric and pumping money into candidate coffers.

In February, the council cast a 4-3 vote in favor of a pared-down plan for 435 for-sale condominiums on 17 acres at the course’s eastern tip, the only Badlands development proposal that has gained council approval.

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

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