Supreme Court revives Jobs Peak Ranch case
A lawsuit challenging Douglas County’s ownership of the Jobs Peak Ranch water system has been remanded back to district court
The lawsuit was filed in district court in 2009 after homeowners learned that a development agreement with the county would eventually lead to higher rates and a consolidated water system.
Jobs Peak Ranch Attorney Kelly Chase said that his clients have waited a long time for the ruling, but the wait was worth it.
In their decision, the justices treated the allegations as though they were true to determine whether the law would allow the suit to go forward.
“At this level the only question was ‘do we have legal basis for claims?’” Chase said.
“We’ve cleared a tremendous hurdle here. I think there are enough facts there to put this before a jury.”
Chase said his goal is to answer a question asked by Hardesty during oral arguments.
“That question was ‘Why did the county accept a deficient system?’” he said.
Chief Civil Deputy Attorney Doug Ritchie said he is preparing for litigation in district court.
In a February 2010 ruling, Douglas County District Judge Michael Gibbons said the county failed to adequately notice the rate increase. Gibbons said the challenge of the development agreement between the county and the project developer was rejected because the statute of limitations had passed.
The supreme court ruling doesn’t deal with the merits of the case, just that those portions not upheld must be reheard at the district court level.
The panel consisting of Chief Justice Jim Hardesty, Justice Michael Cherry and Justice Kristina Pickering, ruled that most of the claims made by the homeowners association had not expired when the lawsuit was filed.
Among those are claims related to breach of contract.
As a result of the ruling, the lawsuit has been remanded to Douglas County District Court Department II.
Jobs Peak Ranch, located in southwest Carson Valley, was approved by the county on Dec. 5, 1996. The original development agreement was recorded in 1997, and required the developer to install an adequate water system to serve the subdivision.
According to court documents, the developer and its water system operator told homeowners in 2004 that the water system was not in compliance.
The county accepted the Jobs Peak water system in 2004, although the water required treatment for carbon dioxide.
Douglas County received a feasibility study that indicated the water in the system was corrosive and would affect the distribution center.
In 2005, the county engineer advised county officials that new conditions of approval for the fifth phase of the project include bringing the water system up to code.
By Dec. 15, 2005, the county approved an agreement with the developer that it would take over the system.
The transfer of the water system to the county was completed in 2006.