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September 2, 2014

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Developer’s proposed land swap efforts win county’s approval

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 | 12:45 p.m.

Jim Rhodes’ controversial proposed residential development was back before the Clark County Commission on Tuesday. But unlike previous, heated meetings about his plan to build thousands of homes near Red Rock National Conservation Area, Tuesday saw widespread agreement from commissioners, conservationists and the developer.

The issue: Commissioners voted whether to support efforts by Rhodes to swap his 2,658 acres near Red Rock with an equitable amount of federal land in a different area.

The vote: Approved 6-1, with Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani opposed

What it means: Rhodes can move forward with negotiations with the federal Bureau of Land Management and begin looking for plots of land suitable for a swap.

Ron Krater, who has been doing land planning for the project, said the developer would look for land equivalent in value to Rhodes’ Red Rock property in a growth area of Clark County.

“This is an opportunity to work collaboratively with the community and the commission to develop a long-range vision for how this property is going to be used in the future,” Krater said. “We’re always open to those options. We’re always open to dialogue.”

The proposed development for Gypsum Mine on Blue Diamond Hills has been a source of controversy since Rhodes introduced it years ago. Opponents worry the development would ruin the pristine beauty of the area, and the project has been delayed for years by a series of legal and financial challenges.

During public comment on Tuesday, Nature Conservancy Nevada chair Thomas Warden said he supported a potential land swap.

Commissioner Susan Brager introduced the resolution to support Rhodes’ efforts, and it received support from the other commissioners, except for Giunchigliani.

“A developer purchased property they knew they could never build on …and then used our process now to try and get public land in a much better place,” Giunchigliani said. “I think that was the agenda all along, to have the land swapped and not actually construct.”

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