Antelope Valley developer sues Douglas County over growth limits

Developers planning a 5,700-acre project in Antelope Valley filed a lawsuit in District Court against Douglas County, saying the Sustainable Growth Initiative will interfere with productive use of their property and ability to profit from the venture.

Plaintiffs Elephant LLC and Fairfield Topaz LLC charge the ordinance amounts to deprivation of their property rights by the government.

"Imposition of a 280-unit limitation will constitute a significant interference with plaintiff's property rights and investment-backed expectations," states the lawsuit filed on June 6.

One of the principal developers, Jim Bawden of Landmark Homes, said work just started on the project.

Plans include everything from retail commercial to residential properties. The number of homes for this project, located just off State Route 208, has not yet been determined, Bawden said.

"We still have to go through the entitlement and approval process," he said. "But we want to protect our property rights. We have a large investment out there and we believe what's happening with SGI is not constitutional - that they are taking our property rights."

Approved in the November 2002 general election, the Sustainable Growth Initiative has been the subject of numerous disputes both in and outside the courts and has never been implemented.

The Nevada Supreme Court reversed a decision by Douglas County District Judge Michael Gibbons, who ruled against the voter-approved cap on building permits, saying the initiative was not consistent with Douglas County's master plan.

The 3-2 vote remanded the debate to Gibbons' courtroom for further proceedings, where a decision is pending.

"We understand the initiative isn't in effect, but we just don't know what's going to happen," Bawden said.

In his reply, Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle said the plaintiff's property is subject to discretionary approvals.

Based on information in the lawsuit, Elephant LLC and Fairfield Topaz LLC want more than $10,000 in declaratory relief and an injunction to stop enforcement of the contemplated ordinance. The suit also asks for attorney fees and costs, and any further relief the court may deem appropriate.

Robert L. Eisenberg of Lemons, Grundy and Eisenberg in Reno is representing the plaintiffs.


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