Growth cap on ballot not a done deal
While the proposed growth cap is part of November’s general election ballot, the state Supreme Court could still decide the matter.
Both sides of the sustainable growth initiative said, while it is not likely, it is possible that the Nevada Supreme Court could make a final decision before the Nov. 5 election.
The Douglas County Clerk’s office said they are preparing to run the election either way.
“I am prepared to receive an order at 5 p.m. on election day,” said Douglas County Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Reed. “And we are ready with or without (the initiative on the ballot).”
Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle provided an update on beleaguered ballot question 4 to audience members at Thursday’s town hall debate at Minden’s CVIC Hall.
“The election process will continue as normal,” Doyle said, “with a note to voters that it is subject to litigation.”
Doyle said proponents of the Sustainable Growth Initiative, the ballot question that limits growth of dwelling units in the county to 280 per year, were granted a motion by the Supreme Court Thursday to reply to the latest rounds of appeals in the matter.
Patty Cafferata, attorney for the SGI Committee, said she has until Oct. 17 to submit her reply. But she doesn’t expect the High Court to conclude the matter before next month’s election.
“I suppose anything is possible,” she said. “But I don’t expect it to happen. That’s why the Supreme Court didn’t want to rush in the first place.”
Cafferata said the court still has to rule on her appeal of the court’s decision last month to grant a motion by Nevada Northwest LLC to expedite the matter, and to rule on her request for the court to hear oral arguments.
“And that would take at least two, three weeks to even get on the calendar.”
Last month, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against two motions by Nevada Northwest LLC, respondents in the lawsuits, to take the issue off the ballot.
Supporters gained enough signatures of Douglas County voters to put the growth initiative on the ballot. Developers Nevada Northwest LLC sued the Douglas County Commission and Sustainable Growth Initiative committee’s five leaders in July to get the growth cap removed from the November ballot. On Aug. 20, Douglas County District Court Judge David Gamble ruled the right to file an initiative does not extend to voters on zoning issues.
Cafferata filed an appeal, a writ of mandamus to get the matter heard in time for the upcoming election. She said the writ was an “accelerated method” to get the court to review the decision to strike the initiative from the ballot. In its appeal, SGI claimed the decision by Gamble was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled Sept. 5 the growth cap initiative will return to the ballot and stayed Gamble’s decision in order to have more time to decide the matter, and meet the Sept. 17 election ballot printing deadline.
After that ruling, Nevada Northwest filed a relief from stay motion in its answer to SGI’s writ of mandamus and filed a motion to expedite the matter. The Supreme Court granted Nevada Northwest’s request to expedite the issue, and denied the motion to stay.
The county then filed its response Sept. 12.
Although Cafferata is not required to respond to Nevada Northwest or the county responses, she filed a request to respond Sept. 20. In addition, she filed an appeal to the motion to expedite the matter, and requested to the court to hear oral arguments.
The Supreme Court ruled in her favor Thursday to file a response, but deferred action on the SGI requests to appeal the motion to expedite the matter and the request to hear oral arguments.
Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said it is a timing issue.
“If the Supreme Court time frame says we can get it all done, then we’re good to make a decision,” he said.
“It could happen. But it is doubtful it will happen before the election.”
Doyle could not be reached for comment by press time.
n R-C Staff Writer Regina Purcell can be e-mailed at email@example.com