Indian Hills sues to stop redevelopment expansion | RecordCourier.com

Indian Hills sues to stop redevelopment expansion

by Susie Vasquez

The Indian Hills General Improvement District trustees sued Douglas County in District Court on Monday to stop expansion of the north county redevelopment district.

In addition to the county, the lawsuit names the board of commissioners and the redevelopment agency.

Indian Hills officials are considering cityhood and redevelopment could thwart those efforts, thereby denying residents the right to choose their own government, according to court documents.

“Respondents (Douglas County officials) have acted with an improper purpose: to impede the potential formation of a new city at the north end of the valley, and to develop new commercial areas for the speculative sales tax revenue,” attorneys Scott Brooke and Cassandra Jones charged in the suit. “Redevelopment law is designed to rehabilitate dilapidated areas, not to be used as a political weapon or to develop sagebrush lands.”

Douglas County commissioners approved the addition of 610 acres to the redevelopment district Feb. 3, paving the way for a new commercial district in north Douglas County. The property officially becomes part of Douglas County’s redevelopment district Thursday.

The suit charges county officials abused their discretion by making certain findings and approving redevelopment without enough evidence.

For example, 75 percent of the land under consideration for redevelopment must be improved under state law, a requirement Douglas County officials have not met.

Sunridge Golf Course accounts for 366 acres (55.1 percent) of the redevelopment area and a large portion of the improved area, but is used for recreational purposes and zoned for agriculture.

“Even if one makes the assumption that Sunridge qualifies as developed property, a majority of the golf course land is still not served by public sewer, water systems or roads, and therefore does not meet the definition of ‘improved land,'” the suit states.

An independent consultant’s report shows that the proposed redevelopment could severely impede any potential cityhood project because the needed property tax revenue would be diverted to repay redevelopment debt, the suit charges.

With this redevelopment project, county officials say they could provide the needed infrastructure that would make the project economically feasible. Without that money the development could be piecemeal.

“AIG Baker, the assumed commercial developer, has not even submitted a completed building permit application,” the suit argues. “There is no assurance of any developer, any sales, or any increase in tax revenue.”

Harm to the residents of Indian Hills, on the other hand, is qualified in the suit as certain, immediate and great with respect to the loss of unique real property, deprivation of increased property tax revenue for local services and purposeful frustration of examining cityhood, the suit states.

Holler argues that government entities in Nevada will most likely run into a wall in the coming years with respect to tax revenues. Counties could be more reliant on sales tax dollars in the future and he’s concerned about all revenue sources.

When fully developed, the commercial area could bring roughly $750,000 to Douglas County coffers for everything from the libraries and improvement districts to the general fund.

The Douglas County general fund would receive $280,000 and another $250,000 would be funneled into a special account for the parks, airport, library and seniors. Another $220,000 will come back to other taxing agencies, like towns, improvement districts and fire districts, Holler said.

Gaming has been the economic engine in Nevada since the 1930s, but sales taxes became the largest revenue component a couple of years ago for the first time, said county commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.

“I don’t like the game we’re forced to play, but we have to play the cards we’re dealt,” he said.

— Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.