City files motion to dismiss tribe's lawsuit opposing development

While plans for parks and street layouts progress, the fate of a proposed 500-plus home subdivision in South Carson City depends on a court case labeled Washoe Tribe vs. Carson City.

Two weeks ago, attorneys for the city filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from the Washoe Tribe, calling the suit a collection of "unsupported allegations."

The lawsuit alleges abuse of power by city supervisors who passed a zone change and land-use plan amendment without the approval of the planning commission.

The amendment clears the way for medium-density housing in the currently rural area near the Douglas County border.

The tribe's lawsuit claims Carson City supervisors had no authority to challenge the plan's failure in the planning commission because the developer had not appealed the ruling.

The city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, however, states supervisors have all the authority over land-use decisions. The planning commission's role isn't even to deliver rulings, according to the city, but suggestions for supervisors. The motion that failed in the planning commission in April was, in fact, whether to "recommend" the proposal to supervisors.

That is "as it's been done for 27 years," according to arguments filed in Carson City District Court.

The zone change and master plan amendment received a favorable vote, 4-2, from the commission, but it needed five votes for a positive recommendation.

The city's motion also counters the tribe's environmental and safety objections of building a subdivision on vacant land bordering tribal property, stating that environmental and safety regulations will have to be met if or when developers submit a subdivision map, which they haven't yet.

The city cannot be sued, the motion states, for something it may fail to do in the future.

The tribe says the city is flat wrong. Environmental and safety factors are a vital part of determining whether a given piece of land is compatible with something like a subdivision, the tribe's response to the motion for dismissal states.

One of the four criteria for master plan changes in Carson City is land-use compatibility.

The city is expected to file a rebuttal to the tribe's response soon, after which a Carson City District Court judge will determine whether the case should continue or be dismissed.

The subdivision has also been opposed by residents who live in the South Carson area who want to keep it the rural, horse-friendly neighborhood it has been for years.

Supervisors said "affordable" housing like some of which is proposed for the subdivision is sorely needed.

The lowest price homes will likely start around $250,000, a consultant told city supervisors. While many people wouldn't consider that price affordable, it's cheaper than anything else going up in Carson City, officials said.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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