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2000-06-24
Las Vegas, NV.Home Depot's Zoning Crap Shoot

Homeowners in Las Vegas are gambling with the future of their largest investment, as Rodney Helm found out. He never had to enter a gambling casino to lose big money. The Clark County Commissioners have approved zoning and use permits to pave the way for a 130,000 s.f. Home Depot right next door to Helm's ranch style home. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Helm has lots of company: "In recent years, thousands of other families in the Las Vegas Valley have found their residential neighborhoods invaded by big commercial projects, from casinos to restaurants to superstores." One state lawmaker accused the County Commissioners and city councils of allowing "politics to replace planning." Rezoning has become a dirty eight letter word, more dangerous to a homeowner than a bad night at the blackjack tables. Commissioners voted 5-1 to not only change its land use plan for Home Depot, but to rezone the area. Residents are planning to appeal the decision. County Commissioners act as the zoning board, and make dozen of these changes every year. Developers are able to remake land use plans and zoning after such plans have been approved, in essence creating a form of ad-hoc zoning in Clark County. In the Home Depot case, Commissioners argued -- without substantiation -- that the project would benefit the area's economy, and lower air pollution from cars by reducing driving longer distances to farther stores. One local activist told the newspaper: "After the first couple of rounds, residents come to the conclusion that the entire system is corrupt from top to bottom, so they throw in the towel. They quit." The courts rarely overturn a county decision, either for or against a developer. The Las Vegas Sun says that the message to homeowners is "get used to land-use changes in their neighborhoods."

What you can do: The real gamble in Las Vegas, it turns out, is not at the crap tables at all -- but out in the neighborhoods, where residents are told, as one developer said: "Sooner or later something is going to pop up in your neighborhood that you are not in favor of." Or, as land use attorney Chuck Gardner says, "If there is a vacant lot in their neighborhood, it's up for grabs." Sort of like a slot machine approach to zoning....To find out how to help Rodney Helm fight the Home Depot in his backyard, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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