Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

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Station Casinos, Summerlin residents in standoff

Nearly three weeks after the Clark County Commission told supporters and opponents of the planned Station Casinos resort in Summerlin to go back to the negotiating table, a compromise still seems far from likely.

Representatives from Station Casinos and the opponents to the company's plans met last week, but both sides reported little movement and little room for further concessions.

Station Casinos had planned a 300-foot tower to be the centerpiece for what would be the crown jewel of their corporate kingdom. The company has agreed to trim about 30 feet of the central tower and offered other concessions, but many Summerlin residents in a group called Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth and their environmentalist allies say that is not enough. They are holding firm on a maximum height of 130 feet for the tower.

"We have made a very substantial effort to address their needs," said Lesley Pittman, Station Casinos vice president for community relations. "Stations has offered concessions on all the major issues of concern -- lighting, signage, the exterior look, noise, fireworks, precedent and room height.

"They won't come up from their 130 feet."

Opponents say they are at least as frustrated.

"The highest we would be able to go is the 130," said Gabriel Lither, a founder of Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth. "We're willing to negotiate, we're willing to compromise, but there's no reason for us to go up if they can't make it work below 250 feet."

Commissioners on Dec. 3 said that if the two sides can't find common ground, they would impose a Solomon-like decision. It could be a decision that neither side is happy with.

The commission is scheduled to meet again Jan. 7 and is to render a decision on the special-use permit Station Casinos needs to build the tower. By right, the company is allowed only 100 feet on the site, but the company seeks to have a tower that will at least peek over the top of 250-foot office buildings that the Howard Hughes Corp., a Station Casinos ally, plans immediately to the east.

The county approved the 250-foot height for the office buildings two years ago. Howard Hughes Corp. officials, who have supported Station Casinos efforts, say they don't know when the office complexes would be built.

The area residents and environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, who opposed Station's tower argue that it would block views of the mountains to the west, including the mountains around the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Commissioners said at the December meeting that they appreciate Station Casinos' goals for the site, which include creating a major "employment node" away from the Strip. But the commissioners also appeared united in their dislike of the 300-foot tower proposal.

Commission Chairman Chip Maxfield, whose district includes many of the residents who oppose the project, indicated he's willing to do what he can to bridge the impasse, including meeting with the two sides.

Lither said Friday that he wants at least one commissioner to get involved in the talks.

"Ultimately, we're looking to the county commissioners for guidance," he said.

Lither said the presence of a commissioner might smooth over the rough meetings.

"I don't think I can handle another meeting like last night," he said Friday.

He said residents have not given up hope that a compromise can be reached.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Lither said.

Pittman said Station Casinos also is willing to continue talking.

"We decided we're going to go back, think about it during the holidays, and reconvene before the meeting in January," Pittman said. But she did not hold out great hope for a major change.

"We think this is the best we can do to still have a workable project for our guests," she said.

Maxfield said he also hopes that a compromise can be reached.

"We're certainly going to hear something on Jan. 7," he said. "I'm holding onto hope that on Jan. 7 we will hear something equitable for both sides.

"If not, we will have to make a decision at that time," Maxfield said.