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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB)

Water Deal Questioned

On July 18, 2017, the Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB) voted to relinquish its interest in a 5-acre parcel of land purchased from Richard T. Bowler and Joseph L. Bowler III, doing business as the Virgin River 140 LLC., 330 N. Sandhill, Mesquite, NV.

The 5-acres is part of 39.85 acres from parcel 034-00-001-013 located adjacent to the Virgin River a few miles southwest of Bunkerville and Mesquite NV.

In July 2001, the parcel belonged to area rancher John Lonetti Jr doing business as (dba) Meadowland Farm.

In the second week of January 2005 flooding occurred along the Virgin River, Meadow Valley Wash, and Muddy River.  Over 75 homes in Mesquite were evacuated. The flood damaged Beaver Dam Wash, at Beaver Dam, AZ and Half-Way Wash about 30 miles west of Mesquite and Bunkerville, NV and changed the boundaries of parcel 034-00-001-013.

On July 21, 2004, Lonetti Jr. dba Meadowland Farms granted parcel 034-00-001-013 to Transportation Nevada. An inquiry to identify Transportation Nevada with the Clark County Recorder went unanswered.

On August 1, 2005, Meadowland Farm LLC (Lonetti, Jr.) sold parcel 034-00-001-13 to Richard T. Bowler and Joseph L. Bowler, III, dba Rancho Riverside LLC, 330 Sandhill, Mesquite, NV., for $3,006,300. That same day a deed of trust was entered between the Bowlers dba Rancho Riverside and David R. Belding, 395 E. Sunset Road, Las Vegas NV.

On Aug 3, 2005, the Bowlers dba Rancho Riverside LLC took an option on the Meadow Land Farm LLC (Lonetti) parcel 034-00-001-013. On August 11, 2005, the Bowlers dba Rancho Riverside LLC passed the deed to themselves dba Virgin River 140 LLC.

On June 8, 2006, a lis pendens (Latin for suit pending) was filed on parcel 034-00-001-013. Listed on the pending suit with David R. Belding, Clark County Equity Title LLC. Equity Title of Nevada and the Virgin River 140 LLC as the 1st part. The suite lists Transportation Nevada as the 2nd part.

Lonetti, Jr. dba Meadowland Farm LLC transferred more land from the 034-00-001-013 parcel to the Bowlers dba Rancho Riverside LLC on March 18, 2008. Lonetti noted on that action that he reserved all water rights of “any kind or nature.”

When VVWB members Ted Miller, John Paul, Cecil Leavitt, Robert (Bubba) Smith and Kenyon Leavitt met on May 6, 2008, they discussed previous plans to spend $1.3 million to locate a Ramney Collector Well at the flooded out Half-Way Wash site. A Ranney Collector utilizes surface water and stream bank formations to remove sediments. During the meeting, VVWD Hydrologist Michael (Boomer) Johnson told the Board that  “they” were looking to purchase 5 acres of land at “another site” for the Collector.

When the same board met on May 15th, 2008 they voted to purchase five acres of parcel 034-00-001-013 from the Bowler’s dba Virgin River 140 LLC  for installation of the Ranney Collector Well. That parcel is about 23 miles east of Halfway-Wash site. Johnson said that “they” wanted to look at private lands first before looking at federal lands. The Board, absent Leavitt, agreed to purchase the land for an appraised price of $235,965. They agreed to spend $202,000 in earnest money. While Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) funding was identified for the project, Johnson warned that the money needed to be obligated.

On July 13, 2009, the Deed of Trust between Bowler’s Rancho Riverside LLC and their Virgin River 140 LLC with Belding was amended and restated with assignments of rents to Bowlers Rancho Riverside LLC.

On July 14, 2009, the Bowlers doing business as Virgin River 140 LLC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to sell the 5-acres from parcel 034-00-001-013 to the VVWD.

When VVWB members John Paul, Karl Gustaveson, Leavitt, Ted Miller and Mark McEwen met on July 20, 2010, they discussed the Virgin River 140 LLC agreement. Foremost on their minds was the failure of Clark County Commissions to approve dividing out 5-acres from the 39.85 Acres in the 034-00-001-013 parcel.

In January 2012, Richard Bowler replaced McEwen on the VVWB. Six months later, on June 21, 2012, Nevada Title Company became the trustee for Rancho Riverside LLC. That action was immediately followed by a notice of breach and election to sell. A breach is normally accompanied by an unrecorded Declaration of Default. The notice to sell was recorded with the Clark County Recorder on May 7, 2013.

A year later, on June 27, 2014, the VVWD entered into a notice of interest with the Bowlers dba Virgin River 140 LLC in an attempt to recover their down-payment for the 5-acres of land in the 034-00-001-013 parcel. Board members at that time included: Ted Miller, Kenyon Leavitt, Sandra Ramaker, Richard Bowler, and Kraig Hafen.

Four years later, on July 18, 2017, Board members Nephi Julien, Ben Davis, Barbara Ellestad, and Travis Anderson discussed the status of Bowlers Virgin River 140 LLC deal. The board voted to relinquish its interest in their 5-acres of parcel 034-00-001-013. According to Linda Faas of the Mesquite Local News (MLN), the board hopes to get approximately $25,357 from a sale. Board member Bowler was absent from the meeting.

Note:

On November 21, 2016, Keith Harper, a real-estate appraiser from Las Vegas testified in the trial brought by the VVWB against their former Hydrologist, Michael (Boomer) Johnson, and former state water engineer Richard Coache. Harper testified that he talked with VVWB member Richard Bowler about the value of the Riverside river property that Bowler had acquired. Harper was looking to compare the Bowler purchase with a $1,040,000 paid by Johnson and Coache for 40 acres of similar property in the same general area.

According to Harper, Bowler said he acquired the property in anticipation that the city of Mesquite would develop in that direction. Harper testified that he did not use the reported value of the Bowler property as a comparison since it appeared to be an” arms-length” conveyance, where the price is inflated by those involved in the transaction.

According to Harper arm’s length sales are made between family members and may not reflect the market value of the property. Harper estimated that an acre of riverside property in that area was worth about $26,000 per acre.

 

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of Nevada-today.com and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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