Las Vegas Sun

February 21, 2019

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County Commission urged to ‘save’ Red Rock with settlement


Larry Cruikshank / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

Snow dots the mountains on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, behind the visitors center at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Developer Jim Rhodes smiles on Blue Diamond Hill on Monday, May 5, 2003. Las Vegas can be seen in the background.

Developer Jim Rhodes smiles on Blue Diamond Hill on Monday, May 5, 2003. Las Vegas can be seen in the background.

As the Clark County Commission prepares to decide whether to continue its legal fight with developer Jim Rhodes over his plans to build near the Red Rock National Conservation Area, two petitions are circulating.

The petitions from opposing factions both claim they want to “save” Red Rock.

How can that be?

Before I answer, some background:

In 2005, Rhodes’ Gypsum Resources sued over a county ordinance that prevented him from building more than one house on every two acres of his land. With a May 3 trial looming, county attorneys have advised commissioners to approve an agreement they worked out with Rhodes. A court in November 2009 sided with the developer, they note, striking down a state law that mirrored the county restrictions.

The tentative agreement would restrict the number of acres Rhodes can develop to 1,700 — he could develop up to 2,400 acres regardless of whether he wins or loses. At the same time, the settlement would grant the county more oversight. With the agreement, some 500 acres that Rhodes owns within the conservation area would not be developed if it is exchanged for nonsensitive land.

A group concerned about maintaining the beauty of the Red Rock area wants the commission to continue its court fight and to place an advisory question on the November ballot to protect “environmentally sensitive areas from incompatible development.”

The other “Save Red Rock” group is Rhodes’. The person handling his petition, consultant Terry Murphy, said she believes the agreement worked out between Rhodes and county attorneys really does save Red Rock.

Murphy offers a pros/cons list of what would happen in the following scenarios: if the settlement is accepted; if Rhodes wins in court; or if the county wins in court.

Let me guess, Rhodes’ hired hand concludes the best thing for the county is to accept the settlement.

Her argument is similar to the one made by county attorneys, who argue if the case goes to court and the county loses — or even if the county wins — Rhodes could develop the land and do it in a piecemeal way without strong county oversight and with less public input.

What happens if the settlement is accepted?

The county will have more oversight; the public gets to be more involved; no piecemeal development; access points are changed; and the 1,700 acres that Rhodes can develop are those acres occupied by a gypsum mine.

For information from both sides, see (Rhodes’ site) or


Even though it could lay off hundreds to close a budget deficit, Clark County wants to replace Phil Rosenquist, an assistant county manager who is retiring.

Rosenquist was hired in 1991. After five years as director of Development Services, he was appointed assistant county manager in April 2007.

Do they really need to replace him? After all, the county wants to save money, and assistant county managers don’t come cheap.

You’re correct about the pay. Assistant county managers earn $120,473 to $186,700 a year.

Whether a replacement is needed, you be the judge.

The county typically employs three assistant managers who work for County Manager Virginia Valentine.

Last year, one of her three assistants, Darryl Martin, left for a job in Texas and his position was not filled. His duties were assigned to the remaining two managers.

When Rosenquist leaves, Valentine will have one assistant manager, and his area of expertise is judicial.

Rosenquist’s duties include oversight of 10 departments, including Fire, Parks, Public Works, assessor’s office and Comprehensive Planning. He is the primary liaison to the Flood Control District, Regional Transportation Commission and Health District and chairman of the Long-Range Planning Committee.

Valentine notes that over the past few months, the county has reduced its management ranks by 13 percent.

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