Lyla homeowners sue county
Nevada Appeal News Service
The last neighbors of the developments along the Douglas-
Carson City line are asking a judge to overturn an increase in density for a housing project next to their property.
Lyla Lane residents Jerry Vaccaro and Anne Sullivan are suing Douglas County and Big George Ventures to stop an increase in density from 366 to 630 homes on the project.
Big George is developing a housing project behind television star Max Baer Jr.’s Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino. The developments are located on former federal land sold to fund conservation efforts in the state.
In August 2007, Douglas County commissioners approved Baer’s project, which included two 143-foot hotel towers and a 40,000-square-foot gaming area, cinema complex, restaurants, spa facilities and 720 rooms, to be built in phases.
That approval prompted Big George Ventures owner Raymond Sidney to seek additional density for the housing project.
“The approval of the two projects left the homeowners in a hole both literally and figuratively,” attorneys for the owners said in their filing. “They are bound to the south by a hotel and on the west by a dirt wall.”
The request for judicial review questions the county’s right to affect plaintiff’s property.
“Whether spurred by competition with Carson City for sales taxes, by a lawsuit filed by Big George or they actually believe that the amendment was appropriate, the board’s actions have placed the petitioner in an untenable position,” court documents said.
The lawsuit accused the county of providing a change in the circumstances required in county code to approve a master plan amendment.
“The change in circumstances ruling was self-created by the county’s approval of (Max Baer’s) casino.”
Attorneys for Big George pointed out that regardless of the county’s action, the circumstances did change for them.
The lawsuit claims that a planning commission approval of the Big George density increase was really a denial and that county commissioners should have upheld the denial.
Attorneys claim that the planning commission action is a final action not a recommendation, in direct opposition to common practice in Douglas County.
During the Aug. 12, 2008, planning commission hearing Planning Commissioner Mike Olson abstained from the vote, because he’d received a campaign donation from Big George.
That reduced the number of planning commissioners, who require a super majority to approve a master plan amendment. Without Olson’s vote the final 4-2 didn’t have the five votes needed to pass, according to Vaccaro’s attorneys. They say Olson didn’t need to abstain.
“If the intent of the ethics law were to have campaign contributions create the need for an abstention, business in Nevada would come to a halt,” attorneys wrote.
The Lyla Lane property has been zoned so that when its residential use is over it will become commercial.
No date has been set for a hearing in the case.