Las Vegas Sun

June 23, 2018

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Planning Commission recommends against housing development near Red Rock

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L.E. Baskow

Entrance at the Blue Diamond Hill Gypsum Mine which Developer Jim Rhodes is renewing his decade-long bid to develop as a master planned community with 5,000+ units on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

Blue Diamond Mine Plans

Another truck departs the Blue Diamond Hill Gypsum Mine which Developer Jim Rhodes is renewing his decade-long bid to develop as a master planned community with 5,000+ units on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Launch slideshow »

After two hours of public comments Tuesday night, Clark County planners voted against a controversial proposal to develop a master-planned community on a hill overlooking Red Rock Canyon.

The Planning Commission’s unanimous vote serves as a recommendation to Clark County commissioners, who will vote in December on whether to allow the project to proceed.

Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes has long sought the county’s permission to build a community over 2,010 acres on a hill near the town of Blue Diamond. The development would have 5,025 homes and eventually replace Rhodes’ active gypsum mine.

Mining on the site would continue for about 10 years, with the master-planned project being developed in phases. The land is also near a separate gypsum processing facility, which is not owned by Rhodes.

In recommending the county deny the development plan, the panel’s chairman, Dan Shaw, said he had concerns about continued gypsum-related activity interfering with residents. He also raised the concern that approving the project in an area zoned for low-density rural development could deviate from the county’s comprehensive master plan for growth.

All seven planning commissioners voted against the proposal. The Clark County Commission will consider the project on Dec. 7.

Dozens of activists, concerned a master-planned community so close to Red Rock would damage the ecosystem and lead to traffic problems, spoke against the plan.

“We are so grateful to the planning commissioners for hearing our concerns,” said Heather Fisher, president of the advocacy group Save Red Rock.

“Their vote to preserve the character of Red Rock Canyon and recommend denial of (a) sprawling development next to our national treasure was truly courageous,” she said. “We will now take the fight to the Clark County Commission.”

The Planning Commission’s recommendation is the most recent turn in a decade-long debate over the most appropriate long-term use for Rhodes’ land.

In 2003, the state Legislature and Clark County passed rules prohibiting increased density near Red Rock’s outlying areas.

After Rhodes successfully challenged the rules in court, the county approved a master-planned community in 2011. That approval, however, lapsed while Rhodes’ development team was in talks with the Bureau of Land Management, forcing management to reapply for county approval earlier this year.

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