City reverses decision on development

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Lawsuit prompts action

By David Giuliani

The Las Vegas City Council last week approved a west-side subdivision, reversing a decision from a year ago.

The council did so on the advice of its attorney, who reported that District Court had sided with the developer, who had filed a lawsuit over last year’s rejection.

In a public hearing in November 2009, some residents said they opposed the proposed four-lot subdivision of modular homes in the 2300 block of New Mexico Avenue because it would consist of low-income homes that would attract a “criminal element.”

In their decision last year, council members didn’t cite the residents’ reasoning.

Councilman Andrew Feldman suggested the land be split into two lots, not four. Also, he said he was concerned about an increase in traffic.

The developer, Phil Warfield, owner of Warfield Properties Inc., said he followed all of the laws and procedures required of subdivisions. He also contended that the council majority — Feldman, Diane Moore and then-Mayor Tony Marquez — factored the residents’ statements against low-income people into their decision.

His lawsuit claimed the city had shown a bias against low-income people by assuming that because of their earnings, they were criminals.

City Attorney Dave Romero recommended to the council last week that it should approve the subdivision because of the “potential liability” if it didn’t do so.

“The District Court wasn’t satisfied with some of the procedures we used. We agreed to bring back this matter for your consideration,” the attorney said.

“We, as a city, have many issues that we can get involved with. The entity that can stop us is the courts. Rare as it may be, the court didn’t like the way we worked on this particular issue,” he said.

Feldman said the city didn’t want to end up with a fight in the courts that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He then proposed the council reverse its decision.

Feldman and Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron voted in favor of Warfield’s plan; Moore dissented.

The city didn’t informed the nearby residents that it was reconsidering its decision.

Warfield said the day after the meeting that he appreciated that the council brought back the issue to the table and rendered an “honest and unbiased approval.”

“We’re all out there to make money and employ others. It’s unfortunate that we have these blocks in the road sometimes,” he said.