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EDITORIAL: Like it or not, Bonnie Springs buyers have rights

Change is often difficult to accept, so it’s not surprising the announcement last week that Bonnie Springs Ranch was being sold to developers has triggered an outcry from preservationists and others. The Old West-themed attraction on the edge of Red Rock has been a local staple for more than 60 years.

Following news of the sale, hundreds of locals turned out last weekend for one last visit to the property, which includes a petting zoo, restaurant and replica of an 1800s mining town.

According to news accounts, the buyers — developer Joel Laub and attorney J. Randall Jones — plan to turn the 63-acre property into a high-end community nestled amid the spectacular scenery of Red Rock and the Spring Mountain Range. Their plan — groundbreaking is set for March — calls for 20 homes on two- or three-acre lots, with a small boutique motel, a restaurant and a 5,400-square-foot barn for hosting events.

This does not sit well with many fans of Bonnie Springs. But unlike other proposed developments in the area — the controversial project on nearby Blue Diamond Hill, for instance — the new owners of Bonnie Springs don’t need any zoning variances or other favors. The property is good to go.

Nevertheless, Las Vegan Peter Hall has now launched an online petition to muddy up the plans. The campaign, on Care2 petitions, has already gathered more than 32,000 signatures and urges officials to declare the ranch a historical landmark in order to block the development.

“The city tried to demolish the Huntridge theater years ago,” the petition notes, “and our community was able to preserve this beautiful building by signing a petition to make it a historical landmark.”

That’s all well and good, but the owner of the Huntridge acquiesced to the designation, as required by law. Presumably, the buyers of Bonnie Springs are of a different mindset.

Let’s be clear. The emotional reaction by Mr. Hall and his supporters is understandable. But what they propose is a thinly veiled effort to commandeer the power of government to strip Mr. Laub and Mr. Jones of their fundamental property rights. This is dangerous and would almost certainly represent a taking under the Fifth Amendment, regardless of how one feels about their plans for the site.

If Mr. Hall hopes to preserve Bonnie Springs in its current form, he should round up investors and tender Mr. Laub and Mr. Jones an offer they can’t refuse. If that’s not possible, may we suggest a GoFundMe drive that taps into the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of people who have already signed the online petition.

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