Opponents of a proposed housing development near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area received a strong statement of support this week from Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, who is currently running for governor.
Last week, the developers of the proposed project, which would turn a former gypsum mine into a single-family homes, submitted a request to waive a requirement that they obtain right-of-way permission from the Bureau of Land Management for an access road before submitting to the county a site-specific plan for consideration. The county commission imposed the requirement back in 2011.
In response, Save Red Rock — a conservation group founded to oppose the project — encouraged their supporters to email commissioners and urge them not to waive the requirement. The application is expected to appear on an agenda during a Dec. 5 meeting when the county commission meets as the zoning commission.
Sisolak’s response to Save Red Rock: “Protecting our vital open spaces, scenic treasures and irreplaceable resources has always been, and will always be, among my highest priorities. I will oppose waiving these conditions.
“Moreover, the voters of Clark County will have spoken and elected two new commissioners, to be seated in January. I will not be a party to a lame-duck vote on such an important matter and I support allowing the next iteration of the county commission being granted the opportunity to weigh in on this issue.”
Sisolak’s statement was welcomed by the project’s opponents.
Three county commission seats are up this election cycle. Justin Jones, a former state assemblyman and the lawyer for Save Red Rock, is running against political newcomer Tisha Black in a race that has focused on the county’s development and planning process. State Sen. Tick Segerblom is running against self-funded candidate Trish Marsh. Incumbent Jim Gibson is also running against former Republican Party chairwoman Cindy Lake and Libertarian Doug Marsh.
The winners of those respective races will bring new blood to the contentious debate, which has spanned years and several iterations of county commissions.
Sisolak hasn’t always been viewed favorably by supporters of Save Red Rock. In a controversial vote last year, Sisolak was part of the majority of commissioners who essentially voted to confirm the project’s planning process could move forward using a 2011 plan that many believed had expired. That vote was decried as a “bait and switch” by opponents of the project and is part of an ongoing lawsuit between the developers, the county and the conservation group.
That trial is scheduled to begin next month.
During the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Sisolak’s competitor, fellow County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, and her supporters used that controversial vote as a talking point. Giunchigliani was one of two commissioners who voted against letting the developer proceed last year. Giunchigliani is term limited and will be replaced by either Segerblom or Trish Marsh in January.
Giunchigliani also issued a response to Save Red Rock this week, saying she was “deeply disturbed that a waiver of conditions application came in from (developer Jim) Rhodes just before the election.” She noted her consistent position against the project.
She added, “I am happy to listen to arguments again but am prepared to act again to Save Red Rock.”