SGI appeal filed in district court

Another round of appeals and cross appeals are expected to be filed this week stemming from the controversial Sustainable Growth Initiative in Douglas County.

The Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee will appeal the latest ruling in Douglas District Court by today.

The group's notice of appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court will include a case appeal statement, according to attorney Kelly Keiper, who represents the committee along with Minden attorney Bill Shaw.

A counter appeal is expected from SGI opponents, including Douglas County, the Douglas County Building Industry Association and developers Aspen Park, Chichester Estates and Nevada Northwest, Jumpers LLC, Century 21 and plaintiff Dr. Jay Marriage, Syncon Homes, Aurora Land LLC and Merrill Construction Inc.

The initiative would limit the number of new dwelling units to 280 per year in Douglas County. It was passed in November, but immediately challenged in court.

The latest appeal is on the final ruling in Douglas District Court by Judge Michael Gibbons on Feb. 11. He concluded the initiative has a legitimate governmental purpose by affecting the "public health, morals, safety and welfare of its citizens." Gibbons imposed a permanent injunction, effectively stalling the start of the initiative.

He also ruled the measure is inconsistent with Douglas County's master plan and thus cannot be the subject of a county ordinance for implementation as an amendment to the plan.

John Garvin, co-chairman of the SGI Committee, said the committee contends the initiative is consistent with the master plan, and that the county can pass an ordinance to implement the growth cap.

He said the Supreme Court will assign a settlement conference judge to meet with all parties to settle the matter.

"Judging by the position of the (Douglas County) DA and the DCBIA ... They have both indicated there is no legal reason to compromise so I expect the conference won't be affective. But we're willing to sit down and discuss," a settlement, Garvin said.

All parties have requested that the Supreme Court to expedite the matter, but that is up to the court. District Attorney Scott Doyle has said it could take more than a year to be heard.

Last month, the Supreme Court denied a request by Nevada Northwest for a new hearing on whether SGI was administrative or legislative in nature. The court ruled Dec. 17, for the first time in Nevada, that the initiative process was valid as legislation, as opposed to administrative in nature.

The high court also said upholding the public's right to vote doesn't prevent lawsuits over the substance of an ordinance enacted to enforce growth limits.


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