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LAS VEGAS-The Clark County Commission next week will vote on a proposed $10-million payment to the owners of land near McCarran International Airport that had been slated for McCarran Plaza Suites, a 344-room casino resort. The property is located at Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 215, two miles south of Mandalay Bay. The owners sued the county in 2002 after new ordinances meant to protect aircraft ingress and egress restricted their ability to utilize the air rights for the casino-hotel project.

Despite denying any and all liability, the county is proposing pay Mona Family Trust, McCarran Plaza Suites Inc. and E.L.K. Investments a combined $10 million “as settlement for all claims for compensation for the condemnation of the Airspace Interests no later than 15 days after the date of the County Commission’s approval of this Agreement.” The Commissioners are scheduled to sign off on the settlement at the Commission’s Jan. 5 meeting. If signed, the plaintiffs will be required within five days time to recognize the county’s “full, permanent, and final rights to the Airspace Interests” and to file with the Court a dismissal with prejudice of their entire Action.

The County has previously settled similar lawsuits and others are still pending, according to previously published reports. A 2003 article in the Las Vegas Sun mentioned the McCarran Plaza Suites lawsuit as one of several and stated that the only two verdicts that had been handed down at that time went against the county to the tune of nearly $30 million when interest, attorney fees and court costs were included, though the airport appealed both judgments.

A Clark County Aviation official was not immediately available Monday afternoon for comment on the McCarran Plaza settlement or how its two earlier appeals turned out, and the information was not otherwise readily available. A 2003 letter sent to McCarran’s then aviation director Randy Walker by Bob Montgomery, then vice president of property and facilities for Southwest and chairman of an airline committee at McCarran, laid out the significance of the cases being decided in favor of the plaintiffs.

“These two cases, if used as a precedent, expose the airport…to similar judgments on over 3,000 acres of land,” Montgomery wrote. “The potential impact to (airport expenses) is close to $2 billion.”

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