Nevada's state engineer is putting the squeeze on the use of groundwater in the massive development called Coyote Springs, north of Las Vegas. Yet, the developer still wants to build his lush community in the desert. More>>
Sunday, May 19 2013 7:24 PM EDT2013-05-19 23:24:51 GMT
LAS VEGAS-- Metro officers have arrested two suspects accused of killing a teen while trying to steal his iPad. 15-year-old Marcos Arenas was run over by an SUV on Thursday near Charleston and Torrey Pines. PoliceMore>>
Metro officers have arrested two suspects accused of killing a teen while trying to steal his iPad.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:05:13 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- When Randy Kleiner stopped to help an injured driver, he didn't expect to become injured himself. But on Thursday morning, as he was assisting someone who had crashed their car, anotherMore>>
When Randy Kleiner stopped to help an injured driver, he didn't expect to become injured himself.More>>
Sunday, May 19 2013 6:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 22:10:00 GMT
LAS VEGAS-- Some of the trams at McCarran International Airport are down due to an electrical failure. Officials tells us they stopped working this morning. Right now at least 2 trams are working, butMore>>
Some of the trams at McCarran International Airport are down due to an electrical failure.More>>
Sunday, May 19 2013 2:26 PM EDT2013-05-19 18:26:25 GMT
LAS VEGAS-- Nevada Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash on the I15 near the Speedway. We're told 3 people are dead. The driver of a Acura was driving northbound when for some reason he enteredMore>>
Nevada Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash on the I15 near the Speedway. We're told 3 people are dead.More>>
Saturday, May 18 2013 9:25 PM EDT2013-05-19 01:25:46 GMT
As a family struggles with the death of a 15-year-old boy killed over and iPad, police are trying to track down the men responsible. Police say two men tried to rob the child of the device on Thursday.More>>
As a family struggles with the death of a 15-year-old boy killed over and iPad, police are trying to track down the men responsible.More>>
Saturday, May 18 2013 9:09 PM EDT2013-05-19 01:09:50 GMT
Lines of people were wrapped around The Lotto Store twice this weekend for the second largest lottery in the history of Powerball. The jackpot has grown to $600 million. People tell 8 News Now they waitedMore>>
Lines of people were wrapped around The Lotto Store twice this weekend for the second largest lottery in the history of Powerball.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 9:02 PM EDT2013-05-18 01:02:54 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- A volunteer basketball coach at Shadow Ridge High School has been arrested, Clark County Schools Police Lt. Ken Young said. According to the Clark County Detention Center, the volunteer coach,More>>
A volunteer basketball coach at Shadow Ridge High School has been arrested, Clark County Schools Police Lt. Ken Young said.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:56:00 GMT
LAS VEGAS - Metro Police says a preteen who was assaulted Thursday during an attempted robbery has died. Investigators said the preteen was walking near Charleston Boulevard and Torrey Pines Drive withMore>>
Marcos Arenas, a Bonanza High School student who was assaulted Thursday during an attempted theft, has died, Metro Police said.More>>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:39:56 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Metro Police are investigating two people found dead in an apartment complex near Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway. According to police, the bodies were found around 3 p.m. Friday atMore>>
Metro Police are investigating the deaths of a man and a woman whose bodies were found in an apartment Friday afternoon near Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway.More>>
The slumping housing market isn't going to keep Nevada super-lobbyist Harvey Whittemore from his dream of building tens of thousands of homes in Coyote Springs Valley, one of the driest spots in the state.
The story of how Whittemore was able to move forward with his plan is a lesson in how things sometimes work in Nevada for those who have connections. Whittemore's plan might not be an impossible dream, but it sure looks like an improbable one.
Whittemore is widely regarded as smart, hard-working, and likeable. He can smooth talk or twist arms, whatever it takes to get things done. When it comes to his plans for Coyote Springs, also known as Harveyville, he gets by with a little help from his friends.
"I didn't create the community. I didn't sell the land to the developer. It happened. Our problem is we have to deal with it," said General Manager Pat Mulroy, Southern Nevada Water Authority.
When water authority boss Pat Mulroy says she had little to do with the plans for a boomtown in Coyote Springs, she's being a bit too modest. Without her help -- and that of many other public officials -- Harvey Whittemore's grandiose vision could never have moved forward.
Whittemore is widely regarded as the most effective lobbyists in Nevada history, a man who gets what he wants. Coyote Springs could be exhibit A. In 1996, Whittemore's company bought 42,000 acres in Coyote Springs. His vision was to build up to 150,000 homes, along with 10 golf courses and a casino or two, even though the valley is 60 miles from Las Vegas and is home to endangered species and sensitive lands and has scarce water resources.
"There was a vision that a large piece of public, I mean private property, would make a phenomenal development," Mike Hillerby, Coyote Springs Development. The slip of the tongue by Coyote Springs executive Mike Hillerby is understandable since the land in question once belonged to the public.
In the 1980's, the BLM land was designated as a potential site for the MX Missile project. When that was cancelled, a rocket company named Aerojet acquired the acreage in a swap for Florida swampland. Documents show Aerojet was specifically not to use the land for development beyond what was needed to test rockets. Somehow, that stipulation vanished by the time Whittemore bought the property. But where did the idea originate?
"I can't comment on the genesis. I don't know the genesis," Hillerby said.
The idea may have come from Richard Bunker, former Clark County manager, longtime partner with Whittemore and fellow gaming lobbyist. Bunker reportedly went to Clark County as an agent for Aerojet to propose the county acquire the land. When the county said no, Whittemore entered the picture. He bought 42,000 acres for $23 million dollars but quickly sold part of his water rights to the SNWA, headed by Pat Mulroy for $25 million. When Richard Bunker was Clark County manager, Mulroy was his assistant. She regards him as her mentor. She defends the Whittemore deal as good for both parties, though it meant Whittemore essentially got the land for free, plus $2 million.
SNWA has helped in other ways too. After federal agencies said water pumping the Coyote Springs would likely dry up nearby warms springs and kill endangered fish, SNWA bought the springs for $69 million and agreed to watch over the fish. SNWA's proposed water pipeline to rural Nevada will come in handy as well since it means Whittemore can buy up remote ranches for their water, then use the public pipeline to carry the water to his development.
Nevada rancher Hand Vogler points out the coincidences.
"Do you think it's divine providence that Harvey Whittemore buys a ranch right in line where the pipeline is gonna go? Do you think it's some sort of accident when you pull into Coyote Springs from Highway 93, there are signs that say - Warning: critical desert tortoise habitat, yet there is enough equipment to make Cashman cats look like a parking lot?
The Clark County Commission, Lincoln County Commission, state legislature, and Nevada congressional delegation have all pitched in with favors for the project. Nevada Senator Harry Reid has helped lead the way and all of those public entities have praised the project over and over.