SGI conference in closed session

The players in Douglas County's controversial growth-control battle have met with a judge over the last month to try to iron out a compromise.

With an agreement not yet in place, a closed conference will go on as scheduled Monday in Carson City to attempt to settle a complex lawsuit over the Sustainable Growth Initiative.

Carole Thompson, executive director of the Douglas County Building Industry Association, one plaintiff in the SGI court case, said she met with settlement Judge Lester Berkson to find common ground.

"We hope it can be resolved and get on with returning the community back to being functional," she said.

John Garvin, vice-chairman of the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee, said that group also met with Berkson.

"Obviously, by talking to both sides separately and privately," Garvin said, "the judge hopes to discern whether there might be common areas of accord whereby further discussions might lead to an agreement disposing of the entire case or at least some of the issues involved."

The Nevada Supreme Court requires this procedure before allowing the parties to proceed with an appeal.

A permanent injunction imposed by Douglas District Court Judge Michael Gibbons in February is the issue under appeal. The injunction stalls implementation of the initiative, which limits the number of new dwelling units built in Douglas County to 280 per year.

The initiative, passed by voters in the November general election was immediately challenged in court.

Garvin said each party is required to come to the negotiating table with a good faith intention of settling the case, even though settlement may not occur.

"SGI intends to comply with that requirement and hopes that county representatives, DCBIA and the private plaintiffs (developers) will do likewise," he said. "Otherwise, we are all wasting our time.

"It is not Judge Berkson's function to hear and decide the case, but simply to facilitate a settlement if that is possible," Garvin said.

"We found him to be open and very interested in reaching that result."

Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle did not return phone calls for comment.


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