LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The battle over Badlands just got a lot bigger as the City of Las Vegas took another costly hit in court, adding millions to the taxpayers' tab.
The court delivered an $11 million-dollar gut punch to the City of Las Vegas on Monday in the case that pitted city leaders against a local landowner, with taxpayers footing the bill.
It's the latest financial blow in the ongoing case of the defunct golf course, which the city essentially seized years ago by blocking development plans.
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The court ruled that landowner-developer Yohan Lowie is entitled to recover costs and expenses incurred while fighting the city's illegal taking of his land. In October, district court Judge Tim Williams ordered the city to pay Lowie more than $34 million in damages for just one portion of the land — a 35-acre parcel at the southeast corner of Alta Drive and Hualapai Way.
Judge Williams said the city prevented the legally permitted use of the property and required the property to remain vacant.
The politics behind the city's battle involve a handful of wealthy Queensridge homeowners who didn't want development on the shuttered golf course behind their homes. Some have since sold their mansions and moved, but the battle rages on.
13 Investigates spoke to one of the developer's attorneys in October.
"The judgment we received from the court is just the beginning," Elizabeth Ghanem said at the time. "There will be costs associated with that and interest starting from the date of value, so we expect that amount to be substantial on top of the judgment."
That amount was made final on Monday. The city is on the hook for court costs, Lowie's legal fees and the property taxes he paid on land he couldn't use. All in all, the total cost to taxpayers is nearly $49 million. Add to that the money the city spent on its own lawyers, which is another $4.5 million.
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The Badlands battle has created rifts within the City Council and been plagued by allegations of corruption, collusion, and conflict of interest. All the while, the land zoned for development into luxury homes devolved into an eyesore.
There are 215 acres still embroiled in court cases — with added court costs of their own if those lawsuits go the same way.
The city wouldn't talk about the latest ruling, citing its practice of not commenting on ongoing or pending litigation.