Growth cap lawsuit heads for court today | RecordCourier.com

Growth cap lawsuit heads for court today

by Scott Murphy, Staff Writer

Arguments about whether the growth cap initiative should be pulled from the Nov. 5 will be heard today at 1:30 p.m. in Douglas District Court.

If approved by voters in November, the growth cap would limit construction of new dwelling units in Carson Valley to 280 per year.

Attorneys for Nevada Northwest, LLC sued Douglas County, its county commissioners, county clerk and the five leading proponents of the Sustainable Growth Initiative last month, arguing that decision must be made by commissioners, not voters.

Gamble could rule on the case as soon as today or take it under advisement and decide at a future date.

Nevada Northwest received approval in November 2001 to build a casino in Minden east of Highway 395 that would include more than 376 housing units.

Patty Cafferata, attorney for the Sustainable Growth Initiative group, filed her response to the lawsuit Monday.

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Cafferata said the lawsuit should be dismissed for two reasons.

“One is they have no standing to bring this lawsuit,” Cafferata said. “You can’t sue unless you’ve been injured and they haven’t been injured.”

Also, denying the SGI group the right to petition county officials and have the measure on the ballot violates its First Amendment rights, Cafferata said.

“They sued us for circulating the petition,” she said.

Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle filed a response in July to the lawsuit in which he largely agreed with Nevada Northwest.

The state Legislature has ruled zoning issues are the sole province of county commissioners and aren’t subject to citizen initiatives, Doyle wrote.

Nevada Northwest also argued citizens do not have the right to bring initiatives which involve the zoning process.

In her response filed Monday, Cafferata wrote that in Nevada all political power is “inherent in the people.”

“The people have a constitutional right to determine the law,” she wrote.

n Staff writer Scott Murphy can be reached via e-mail at murph@swiftnews.com