Developers who want to build on former golf courses and other open spaces in the city of Las Vegas — which have provoked disputes valleywide — now must first hold a community meeting with neighbors.
Councilman Steve Seroka, who sponsored the ordinance, said it was solely about “transparency and accountability.”
“If you’re going to build in someone’s backyard, you’re going to hold a meeting, you’re going to talk about it you’re going to write down what you heard,” Seroka said during Wednesday’s council meeting.
The Las Vegas City Council passed the new public engagement rules for open space development within existing residential developments, with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwoman Michele Fiore casting the dissenting votes. The new rules also say the development team must submit a summary of the meeting to the city.
Fiore contended the ordinance was spurred by plans to put homes on the Badlands golf course redevelopment in west Las Vegas. That proposal in Seroka’s ward has been on the table for years, roiling residents in the surrounding Queensridge development for years, eating up thousands of hours of city staff time and generating at least eight lawsuits.
“I call this the Yohan Lowie bill,” Fiore said, referencing the CEO of EHB Cos., the Badlands golf course developer.
Fiore also argued that the ordinance disproportionately affects the northwest ward she represents, where multiple plans to redevelop open spaces have been proposed.
The Badlands developers and their attorneys opposed the open space regulations, contending the rules unfairly single out the 250-acre former golf course. Las Vegas city planning staff have said the new regulations pertain to a number of properties within the city.
Later on Wednesday, the council voted 5-2 to strike a series of development applications that proposed spreading single-family homes across the Badlands property. Seroka contended the general plan amendment the developer submitted was too similar to the one the council voted down June 21, and fell within the city’s yearlong “cooling off” period. Goodman and Fiore cast the only votes against striking the Badlands items from Wednesday’s agenda.
Both the developer and his opponents have sued the city over the plans. Lowie told city officials Wednesday to expect more litigation over the open space ordinance and his development applications.
City officials said Lowie could submit a new round of development applications at any time.
The City Council in February delayed the applications for three months to wait for the dais to be full. The Ward 5 seat was empty at the time, but Councilman Cedric Crear has since been sworn in.
The developer’s attorney Stephanie Allen called the council’s move Wednesday “another delay tactic,” contending it was likely aimed at making the Badlands development proposal subject to the new open space rules.
A previous version of the open space development ordinance called for developers to hold seven mandatory meetings with stakeholders. The new rule cut the required number of meetings to one, but encourages public engagement beyond the single required meeting.
Goodman said she could have supported the one meeting rule, but was against the requirement for a summary report documenting the public engagement, because it may often focus too heavily on the opposition. Adding rules will also slow the process, Goodman said.
“I’m about streamlining business and less government,” Goodman said.