Supreme Court puts Douglas growth initiative back on ballot

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday put a growth-cap initiative back on Douglas County's November ballot saying, in effect, there is no other way to protect the rights of the initiative's supporters.

But justices left the door open as to whether voters actually have the power to make zoning decisions and called for legal arguments on the issue in 30 days.

District Judge David Gamble ordered the "sustainable growth" initiative removed from the ballot, saying decisions on zoning issues such as regulating the number of buildings permitted each year are up to county commissions and not subject to initiative petitions. He said the initiative process doesn't apply to matters legislatively delegated to governing boards.

Sustainable growth supporters want voters to limit building in Carson Valley to 280 dwelling units a year. They raised the necessary signatures, with group chairman John Garvin arguing the growth cap has nothing to do with zoning or land-use planning.

"It simply puts the brakes on the rate of growth," he said.

Opponents filed suit and Gamble agreed with them, ruling the initiative isn't needed because the county master plan contains ways to slow growth and voters can remove leaders who don't support their wishes from office.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the petitioners have raised legal arguments that deserve full consideration.

"It appears that petitioners have raised complex issues of arguable merit and that they may have no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law," the order states.

The court directed that the Sustainable Growth Initiative be put on the November ballot. A decision on that issue was necessary immediately because County Clerk Barbara Reed must order general election ballots as soon after Tuesday's primary election as possible.

But while the question will be printed on the ballot, the court made it clear the legal issue isn't resolved. The seven justices gave opponents of the initiative 30 days to file a response arguing against a writ that would put the decision in the hands of voters.


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