50°F
weather icon Clear

Church claims damages to property exceed $3 million

The Ministerio Roca Solida, a founder of the Patch of Heaven church camp, filed a new takings claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., saying that the damages to its property have grown over $3 million since the diversion of the creek on the property.

In a claim filed on July 12, the Ministerio Roca Solida alleges an unconstitutional taking of the 40-acre property located in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the loss of its vested water rights for the past 5 years.

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service diverted the creek from the property where Victor and his wife Annette Fuentes, the leaders of the Ministerio Roca Solida had founded the Patch of Heaven church camp. The agency cited the need to preserve endangered species, including the Ash Meadows speckled dace that inhabit the refuge.

Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation Director Joe Becker, who represents the Fuentes’, said the Ministerio Roca Solida filed three takings claims since 2010. The first two claims were dismissed with prejudice, which means that the plaintiff still has the right to further litigate when certain conditions are satisfied.

“(In this case,) a takings claim is a claim against the federal government where the government has taken private property, purportedly for a public purpose, without paying just compensation as required by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Becker said.

Becker argued that since the diversion of the creek, the Fuentes’ land and its appurtenances have been flooded four times – the type of flooding that had never occurred before.

“Because of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s actions more than five years ago, less and less rainfall now results in greater and greater flooding,” Becker said.

Erosion from repeated floods has carved large swaths of washes on the 40-acre property, according to the documents.

“And, because of the federal government’s dangerously negligent construction of the channel — never engineered to accommodate any rain or runoff waters — the damage has been compounding. A mini-grand canyon now cuts through what was once lush wetlands, and the significant improvements made to structures and the land for the benefit of young campers are being undone with each recurring flood,” Becker said.

A complaint stated that the Ministerio Roca Solida now finds it “highly problematic” to make its camp available to groups who have historically used the facilities, because less rain results in a greater likelihood of more severe flooding and more severe flood danger.

Becker said that the movement of the waterway and taking of the ministry’s vested water rights was done without the requisite Clean Water Act permits and in violation of FEMA requirements. Becker also said that the movement was done with no regard for the ministry’s religious use of the water for baptisms.

“Sadly, the damage done by this repeated flooding is now so severe, there’s no choice left but to hold the federal government accountable for a complete taking,” Becker said.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @DariaSokolova77

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
‘Monster Mash’ returns to Pahrump Senior Center

A popular Halloween-themed annual event returns this month, as the Pahrump Senior Center is hosting its annual “Monster Mash” party on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Nye County scraps six-hour-leave restriction for sex workers

Nye County is currently considering making several changes to Nye County Code Title 9, which regulates the brothel industry and one of the proposed changes, a six-hour leave rule, sparked outrage from many, particularly courtesans and advocates of the industry.

Semi-truck crash snarls Pahrump traffic

Drivers looking to travel eastbound from Nevada Highway 160 were forced to take a detour around the scene of a single-vehicle crash involving a semi-truck late Tuesday morning this week.

Vendors needed for Pahrump Veterans Stand Down

The men and women who have given their service to the country in the U.S armed forces have a special place in the hearts of many and giving back to veterans is a cause that attracts much support in the local community.

Gateway welcome signs arrive in Nevada

The Nevada Department of Transportation has begun installation of new “Welcome to Nevada” monuments on U.S. 395 at two entrances into the state.

Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo’s ethics agreement accepted

Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo was the subject of two ethics complaints earlier this year, with a Nevada Commission on Ethics review panel determining that the issues contained therein could be adequately addressed through a stipulation agreement.

Trump supporters take a stand in Pahrump

The intersection of Nevada Highway 160 and Crawford Way in the heart of town was the setting for a rally in support of President Donald Trump early Wednesday afternoon.