By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A bill critics say will make it tougher to appeal land use decisions by Clark County local governments won easy approval in the Senate today on a 19-2 vote.
Senate Bill 85 now goes to the Assembly for consideration.
It is opposed by Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, founder of Northwest Residents For Responsible Growth, who sent an email to members of the state Senate voicing her objections to the measure. If a concerned citizen misses a public hearing due to other commitments, a failure to understand an agenda item or for some other reason, the person would have no legal rights to challenge the decision in court later on, she said in a recent phone interview.
Sought by the City of Henderson, a lobbyist for the city said the measure is needed so officials know what concerns a person has with a land use decision before the matter ends up in court. The measure also prohibits challenging land use decisions purely for competitive reasons.
Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, a member of the Government Affairs Committee that heard the measure, spoke in opposition on the Senate floor.
The process of challenging a land use decision by appearing at a public meeting, or in writing or through an official representative, works if people are aware that a particular land use proposal is under consideration, he said.
“This is fine unless you miss the public hearing,” Manendo said. “Many times citizens miss items on an agenda due to a wide variety of reasons such as they are at work, they are caring for their families; sometimes maybe they just can’t decipher the agenda item.”
He mentioned a controversial proposal in Clark County to build a minimum security facility close to homes and a school. The proposal had been moved to the consent agenda, which would not have allowed for testimony, until people complained, Manendo said.
“The unintended consequences are not in the public’s best interest,” he said. “We should not place undue restrictions on the public input in (the) appeal process in land and zoning decisions.”
Senate Government Affairs Chairman John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, said he would not be supporting the bill if he thought it would unfairly restrict public comment.
“If I thought for one minute that somebody would not have a chance to have an opportunity to have their thoughts put forth I wouldn’t push this myself,” he said.
Manendo was joined by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, in opposing the measure.
Renny Ashleman, lobbyist for the city of Henderson, said in an earlier interview the legislation is needed so officials can know what issues may be raised in court later on. Existing law already requires an individual to appear in some form to be considered aggrieved, he said. This can be in writing and does not require an appearance at a meeting.
“Our bill says you have to tell us what you are aggrieved about,” Ashleman said.
Sen. Mark Manendo says SB85 makes it tougher for the public to challenge land use decisions:
Manendo says the bill is not in the public interest:
Sen. John Lee says the bill preserves the public’s right to appeal land use decisions:
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