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Clark County public lands proposal includes resolution to address Red Rock growth

Daniel Rothberg
Daniel Rothberg

Clark County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution this month that would place rules on growth near the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The resolution is part of the county’s push for federal legislation that would open up more public land to development, expand the boundaries of the Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation and protect more wilderness.

The Red Rock resolution is one of two commissioners could vote on as early as June 19. According to a draft, it would commit the county to pursuing “smart growth” near Red Rock, requiring developers to integrate open space into their plans and construct buildings that blend with the area. It would also instruct the county to look at ways to minimize traffic.

The Red Rock resolution came about after environmentalists voiced concerns that the area could be affected by potential growth being discussed in another resolution. That second resolution, if approved, would ask Congress to make several changes to public lands — open more land to development, reserve more tribal land and designate new wilderness in the county.

According to the most recent draft, the county proposes to ask Congress to allow potential development on more than 38,000 acres of land currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. The request would expand the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, legislation passed to organize the sale of BLM land to developers. Much of the expanded BLM land, proposed for eventual development, is along the I-15 Corridor but some is near Red Rock.

Development near Red Rock has caused controversy within Clark County for years, and it recently resurfaced as a campaign issue in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The two candidates, county commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak, have traded attacks over their votes on the density of homes developer Jim Rhodes can build near Red Rock.

The public lands proposal before the county could affect some of Rhodes’ long-term plans.

A draft of the resolution proposes withdrawing some public lands that Rhodes in the past has proposed annexing as part of his project. Ron Krater, a representative for the Rhodes project, said in an interview that he hopes to be included in the discussion over the resolution.

“The disposal boundary conversation is a bigger discussion,” he said.

The county’s position on withdrawing those parcels is not a new one. In past comments to a separate Bureau of Land Management plan, the county had supported withdrawing those lands — the lands that Rhodes had considered purchasing in the past — from potential development.

Disclosure: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
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