Property owners sue over huge Clear Creek project

MINDEN - Neighbors of a 384-home development on the former Clear Creek Ranch are citing the county master plan in their lawsuit against county commissioners.

In its lawsuit, Alpine View Estates Property Owners' Association claims the board failed to take requisite action in approving the resolution and ordinance allowing for construction. Their specific claims are that a majority of the board did not vote to approve and the board failed to make requisite findings in adopting the resolution.

The 1,156-page lawsuit claims that the project approval goes strictly against the spirit of the Douglas County Master Plan.

"It just seemed to me that somebody needed to put a stop to what the commissioners have been doing for the last six years," said association spokesman Ralph Elvik. "I think that the master plan was created to benefit all the people of the county, which would include the builders and the developers.

"It just seems to me that the forces at work have destroyed the checks and balances within the plan. This has been particularly apparent to us here in Alpine View with this project, but that is just my opinion."

Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins said the county will begin preparing responsive pleadings.

"We'll research the law and review the record ourselves," he said. "It'll be some time before that (the response) is out."

Don Miner, a spokesman for the Clear Creek development, said once the developers have a chance to review the lawsuit, they will probably take a position with the county.

"My concern is for the higher good of Douglas County," Miner said. "This type of a high-end development will pay more than its fair share of taxes and contribute substantially to the economy of Douglas County."

He said Clear Creek would consider legal action if the Alpine View group seeks an injunction.

"We have some $20 million worth of offsite infrastructure ready to go, and if they look to halt this, we'll certainly look for the appropriate redress from the plaintiffs."

Elvik said Miner is welcome to do as his bosses direct.

"We are optimistic," Elvik said. "We feel, based on the information that our attorney has prepared, it seems that commissioners were entirely incorrect.

"We believe the commissioners were wrong in accepting the planning department's information. We didn't think it was complete in any matter."

County commissioners voted for approval of the controversial subdivision on Nov. 6. Commissioner Steve Weissinger was absent from the meeting. Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, an employee of the American Land Conservancy, recused himself from the vote at the advice of Perkins, who said Etchegoyhen association with the conservancy gives an appearance of impropriety.

Commissioners Bernie Curtis and Kelly Kite voted for the proposed project, while Commissioner Tim Smith voted against it, as he did in a 4-1 ruling for the project in September. The issue appeared before the commission in November because the Douglas County Board of Planning Commissioners had recommended denial twice.

Perkins ruled that the September vote would stand according to state law because the November vote did not carry the required majority.

The property owners' association lawsuit claims the September motion was not based on any findings - that any alleged findings by the board are based on incomplete, inaccurate and insufficient evidence.

The association claims it will suffer significant damage as a result of the actions of the board.

Along with the lawsuit, the association was granted a peremptory challenge of judge.

The association also filed for an injunction preventing the county from taking any actions on the Clear Creek project. No action has been taken on that request. The petition asks for the court to overturn the commissioners' vote.

Contact Joey Crandall at or at 782-5121, ext. 212.


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