Legal battles plague growth ordinance

Douglas County's master plan, which was approved in 1996, suggests a growth cap of between 2 and 3.5 percent, but to date no ordinance has been imposed.

The voters passed the Sustainable Growth Initiative, (Question 4) in November of 2002, limiting residential permits at a fixed rate of 280 a year, but that measure has seen numerous legal challenges by business interests and developers.

The following represents a sequence of events since that time.

• Nov. 7, 2002 - Developers obtain a temporary restraining order to stop the county from implementing the initiative, saying it is arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable and bears no substantial relationship to public safety, morals or generals welfare. They argued the initiative was inconsistent with Douglas County's master plan.

• Dec 9, 2002 - Members of the Sustainable Growth Initiative intervene in the lawsuits filed by developer/real estate interests.

• Dec 17, 2002 - The Supreme Court supported placement of the initiative on the ballot when it ruled the measure was legislative and not administrative.

• Feb. 11, 2003 - District Court Judge Michael Gibbons issued a permanent injunction voiding the sustainable growth initiative on the grounds that it conflicts with the master plan.

• Feb. 21, 2003 - The Supreme Court rejects a request for rehearing of the Dec. 17 2002 decision filed by plaintiffs, reaffirming the right of the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee to have this matter on the ballot.

• March 17, 2003 - The Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court, contesting Gibbons' order finding SGI was void because it was inconsistent with the master plan.

• April 15, 2003 - The Supreme Court assigned the case to a court-appointed mediator, but there was no progress after many sessions

• June 21, 2004 - All final briefs had been filed by developer and other interests and a reply to the briefs was filed by the Sustainable Growth Committee.

• November 2005 - Oral arguments were presented by the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee before the Nevada Supreme Court.

• Feb 9, 2006 - The Nevada Supreme Court issues a decision finding in favor of the initiative, reversing the decision of the District Court who voided the Initiative and awarded summary judgement in favor of the developers and real estate special interests. The Supreme Court returned the case to district court for trial.

• Feb. 15, 2006 - The Douglas County District Attorney proposes a building permit allocation system with a 2 percent growth cap. This process is now underway as a separate track, apart from the litigation involving the initiative.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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