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Adrienne Packer

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Red Rock Station Plan gets County Approval

8 Jan 2004

By Adrienne Packer

LAS VEGAS -- After weeks of contentious negotiations between Station Casinos executives and Summerlin homeowners, Clark County commissioners unanimously approved revised plans for the Red Rock Station resort Wednesday with little outcry from either side.

Commissioners supported a compromise struck by the gaming company and homeowners that reduced the height of the hotel tower from 300 to 198 feet.

"We were far apart, but we all recognized the reality of it: If we didn't come up with a resolution, both sides might not be satisfied," Station spokeswoman Lesley Pittman said after Wednesday's hour-long hearing.

"When parties are reasonable, this type of deal is what can occur," said Gabe Lither, whose group, Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth, originally pushed for a hotel tower no taller than 100 feet.

Station initially proposed building a 300-foot hotel tower with 1,000 rooms and two 200-foot timeshare buildings with a total of 500 units. During discussions in mid-December, Station executives agreed to reduce the height of the timeshare towers to 100 feet.

In the final hours of negotiations Tuesday, Station scrapped plans for the timeshare towers entirely. The final compromise reduced the number of rooms at the resort to 1,000, all of which will be in the hotel.

Station executives were not willing to budge on the number of guest rooms in its hotel tower, saying 1,000 rooms were the minimum needed to make the property profitable. They estimated that for every 200 rooms lost, the company would lose $19 million in annual revenue, Pittman said.

Despite the concessions, Pittman said Station is confident its project at Charleston Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway will be the upscale resort executives envisioned. It also will be the cornerstone of the western community's planned downtown, Summerlin Centre, she said.

"It will still be the jewel in Summerlin Centre's crown," Pittman said. "There will be a lot of `wow' factors."

The Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of Summerlin, made a proclamation it hopes will quell future disputes between its homeowners and major developers. President Dan Van Epp said the company will place strict 100-foot height caps on the three remaining Summerlin parcels zoned for casinos. Van Epp said the company also will review its plans to build 250-foot office buildings in Summerlin Centre. Station wanted the 300-foot hotel tower to offer some guests views of the Las Vegas Strip over the offices.

On Dec. 3, commissioners sent a coalition of homeowners, Station executives and Howard Hughes representatives back into negotiations when it was clear they were not close to agreeing on the scope of the casino project.

The board vowed to make a final decision Wednesday regardless of whether all parties could reach a compromise.

Homeowners initially demanded that the hotel tower be no higher than 100 feet because that height was specified in disclosure forms many residents signed when they bought their houses.

Lither said some residents are unhappy his coalition conceded nearly 100 feet. He said that in recent weeks county officials offered more guidance to both sides on what commissioners likely would approve.

It became obvious that Station would be granted a tower higher than 100 feet.

"It was clear to us we weren't going to get everything we wanted," Lither said. "We figured we could do considerably worse if it came to an actual vote."

Station appeased homeowners' concerns by agreeing to provide entrances separate from the casino to the resort's movie theaters, ice-skating rink and bowling alley.

Additionally, the stage at Red Rock Station's amphitheater must be sunken and covered

to reduce noise in nearby neighborhoods. Concerts must end by 10 p.m. during the week and by 11 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Fireworks displays are permitted eight times a year. Those who must be notified of such celebrations in advance include homeowners associations within two miles of the resort and residents who live within half a mile.

Station also must notify the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area's Visitors Center, which is about five miles away, and post a notice on the company's Web site.

Signage and lighting at the resort will be considered during design review hearings before commissioners later this year.

Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the agreement, and each congratulated the two sides for hammering out a compromise. Commissioner Mark James, whose district includes the Red Rock Station site, was absent.

"This is an example of a very diverse group of people who disagreed on just about everything, spent a month talking to each other and came back and agreed on just about everything," said Commissioner Rory Reid.

Wednesday's meeting lacked the discord that accompanied past hearings and recent negotiations.

A month ago, homeowners claimed Station executives were not negotiating in good faith, and many residents vowed to unseat Commission Chairman Chip Maxfield for ignoring his constituents' concerns.

Station representatives called residents irrational and said they were frustrated by their unreasonable requests.

On Wednesday, residents said Station has "always been a good neighbor" and the Red Rock Station casino will be "wonderful." They also commended Maxfield and promised he would be re-elected in November.

Lither, once at odds with Station and Howard Hughes, was invited to become a member of Howard Hughes' citizen roundtable, a collection of homeowners called together to give the corporation input on upcoming projects.

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