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Potential $64M Badlands settlement collapses

Updated August 3, 2022 - 10:39 am

Negotiations for a potential $64 million settlement between the city of Las Vegas and a development company behind a stalled plan to build housing on the defunct Badlands golf course broke down a day before the deal was set for discussion at City Hall.

Wednesday’s possible discussion was canceled, but Vickie Dehart — a partner with the parent company of the developer — took the microphone during public comment, alleging that the city had changed the terms of the proposed deal.

She explained the city on July 22 had emailed 180 Land Company LLC with the settlement contract, with terms it had signed onto.

Her short speaking time ended as she tried to explain how the breakdown happened, but she noted that the alleged change the city made Tuesday “wasn’t the intent of the agreement.”

“If we want the litigation to go away, we would like to wish this would have come forward and have a vote and so we could hear where everyone stands on it,” Dehart said. “But the city has chosen,” she said before Mayor Carolyn Goodman said her time was up.

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, who brought the settlement agreement to the council, said she was disappointed with the collapse of talks.

“After working with all parties, I thought the foundation of the deal seemed ripe and ready to come before this council today for further consideration and continued discussion,” Seaman said. “An agreement that would end all litigation and begin the process of developing Badlands into something beautiful and productive for the community.”

“I am disappointed that we will not have a chance to move forward with the settlement at this time,” the councilwoman added. “Regrettably, this matter will continue to work through our courts, and unless both sides’ legal teams can find common ground, it appears we will continue down that path.”

Elizabeth Ghanem, an attorney representing 180 Land Company LLC, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The proposed settlement the developer had agreed to would have encompassed a $49 million court-ordered judgment in a lawsuit that is on appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court and $15 million for building a drainage facility on the property and land-use entitlements. The settlement would have dismissed four separate lawsuits pending against the city.

The developer — which owns 250 acres in the area — is a subsidiary of EHB Cos., which is led by CEO Yohan Lowi.

Plans to build began to stall shortly after the 2015 purchase when a coalition of residents of the upscale Queensridge neighborhood near Summerlin, which surrounds the course, objected, citing fears of high density and dwindling property values. Subsequent disagreements at City Hall about zoning led to a series of lawsuits.

City officials and the developer were in disagreement about a resolution as late as last year, but the potential settlement appeared to point at a solution.

News of a possible settlement came soon after District Court Judge Monica Trujillo ruled last month that the city’s rejection of development plans for a 65-acre parcel of land was an unlawful taking under the Fifth Amendment.

“The settlement is contingent on the City Council’s consideration and approval of certain land use entitlements for the property,” according to a summary of Wednesday’s agenda minutes. “Upon payment of the settlement funds and approval of the land use entitlements, the pending cases will be dismissed with prejudice and the City will receive a full release of liability.”

Ghanem told the Review-Journal on Sunday that she did not know whether to feel confident the settlement would go through, but that it was what the company preferred.

“A good settlement is always better than a great trial,” she said.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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