SGI lawsuit parties agree to 3 issues mandatory for process

The trial on the Sustainable Growth Initiative will be broadcast on community access television starting Tuesday because the judge expects a full courtroom.

Douglas District Court Judge Michael Gibbons issued an order Friday outlining the procedure for the trial, which he also rescheduled. It was initially set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, but will instead begin at 10 a.m.

The courtroom holds 110 people so Gibbons granted a news media request to air the trial on Douglas County Community Access television on Channel 27 in Carson Valley and Channel 19 at Lake Tahoe.

In his order, Gibbons said he will not tolerate a sporting event atmosphere, and that loud or disorderly people will be ejected from the courtroom.

He postponed the start of the initiative by issuing a temporary restraining order Nov. 7, just hours after Douglas County votes were canvassed. Voters approved the initiative Nov. 5.

The initiative limits the number of new dwelling units in Douglas County to 280 per year.

Gibbons said the trial will be concluded in one day. He will determine:

-- whether the initiative is consistent with the county's master plan;

-- if the initiative is constitutional as it reads and;

-- if Douglas County can wait three years for the initiative to take effect.

Because the plaintiffs are challenging the validity of the measure, they will present their case first.

The plaintiffs in the consolidated case are Jumpers LLC, Century 21/Clark Properties, Nevada Northwest, Syncon Homes, Aspen Park, Chichester Estates and the Douglas County Building Industry Association.

Second up will be defendant Douglas County; and the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee, as intervener in the case, will be third.

At an informal hearing Jan. 10 before District Court Judge David Gamble, all parties involved agreed that any decision Gibbons makes for or against the initiative will be final.

However, his decisions are subject to an immediate appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. The losing side is expected to appeal.

The Supreme Court ruled Dec. 17 that the initiative process was legal, but has yet to rule on the specific language of the initiative: If it was proper for Douglas District Court to intervene before the election on allowing the ballot question, and whether the measure is constitutionally permissible as an amendment to existing law.


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