Update In an opinion filed today (Jan.31), the Nevada Supreme Court has decided Senate Bill 358, restricting development on the 2,600 acres near Red Rock, to be unconstitutional.
We hiked and played and imagined in the arid, rocky landscape. We swallowed the vistas and nooks equally, convinced that this was some sort of mythical place, a historically and geologically rich desert island set on another plane that spread through a valley visually uninterrupted for miles in each direction. Back then development seemed to stop at Charleston and Buffalo, and the Mojave wildlife took over, save for the two-lane road cutting through it with minimal traffic.
Eventually the communities and strip malls popping up on West Charleston Boulevard diminished the drive, encroaching on this magical place. So when word got out that someone was planning to use a couple thousand acres for a community on a hill on the other side of Red Rock, the common response was, “What kind of asshole would do something like that?” Developer Jim Rhodes’ plans in 2003 to build housing and businesses on the old strip-mining site off State Route 159 were beyond offensive.
Residents, politicians and environmentalists, concerned about the traffic and whatever else this project would introduce to the scenic area, rolled up their sleeves. Never mind that Rhodes paid $50 million for the land. As many as 5,000 new homes could only harm the area, they argued vehemently.
Now, after 10 years of battling it out and a state law enacted to restrict development there, the Clark County Commission last week approved a proposal allowing Rhodes to swap the 2,600 acres for less-contentious property of equal value. It ends an emotional saga, but some of us wonder what else Rhodes might have up his sleeve.