Originally published by Kristy Totten, Nevada Public Radio
Nov 17, 2016
Blue Diamond Hill is back on the drawing table.
The proposed plan would bring 5,000 new homes and 15,000 new residents to Red Rock Canyon. For comparison, that’s about the population of Boulder City.
The houses would be built on a mining site across the highway from the town of Blue Diamond.
The Clark County Commission approved the project in 2011, but those plans have since expired.
Now Gypsum Resources, the company that owns the land, is once again seeking to build amid opposition from Blue Diamond residents, Red Rock conservation groups, and now the Clark County Planning Commission.
“There was an underlying concern that the project is going to degrade the natural environment,” Ron Krater, a spokesman for Blue Diamond Hill, told KNPR’s State of Nevada. “It is highly degraded. It has really been impacted by the mining activities.”
Krater said decades of mining has left the land in question with no environmental significance. He said when the project was first proposed in 2011 and nearby residents opposed it, land owners tried to work on a land swap deal with Bureau of Land Management, but ultimately the BLM wouldn’t swap the land because it didn’t have any environmental value.
“They re-iterated that the property because it had been so denuded by the mining operations over the last 70 to 80 years that it simply didn’t have any resource value that is required to have it go into category has being a potential in acquisition,” Krater said.
KNPR’s State of Nevada invited members of the Clark County Commission, the planning commission and Save Red Rock, but they were unable to join in our discussion.
Krater said developers are working to move forward with the 2011 plan with some modifications and improvements. One of the most significant changes will be the a reduction in the number of homes proposed — from 7,300 to 5,000.
He also said they want to adjust the zoning to improve the area. Instead of rural zoning, developers want to create a community unlike others in Southern Nevada.
“This is an answer to that which focuses on a high-performing, green, mixed-use, diverse village,” he said.
Krater said a ‘diverse village’ means a diversity of housing, walkable areas and public spaces that do not replicate other Southern Nevada developments.
Traffic is one of the biggest concerns for people living near the Blue Diamond Hill project, including residents of Mountain’s Edge, which has grown significantly since the development was first proposed.
Krater said the new community will include facilities and amenities that people won’t have to drive to and will reduce the number of trips per day that residents make in their cars.
More than 17,000 people have signed a petition against building on Blue Diamond Hill. They are worried it will create smog, light pollution and heavy traffic on Highway 159.
Krater acknowledged the concerns people and groups opposed to the project have. He said those concerns are often based on a myth that the project would be a blight on pristine land at Red Rock Canyon.
“We want to save Red Rock, too,” he said. “It is our intent to ensure that Red Rock is preserved.”
He said the land developers are seeking to build on is already damaged by mining, and he said even if the current plan isn’t approved by the county commission during its Dec. 7 meeting, something will be built on the land.
“It is going to be developed,” he said. “It is going to be some sort of real estate development project.”
Krater said he is confident that developers can solve many of the issues that have come up.