Archive for Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Rezoning lawsuit names city

Commercial Group wants city to rezone land for housing project

December 25, 2002

The City Council's recent denial of a rezoning request for a multi-family development has landed the city in court.

During the November Basehor City Council meeting, Commercial Group of Topeka was denied rezoning of a four-acre tract at 155th Street and Crestwood Drive.

Commercial Group wants the court to either grant it a new hearing with the city or have the city rezone the property previously denied.

"We'd like to get the property rezoned," said Don Cooper, Commercial Group of Topeka spokesperson. "We feel that's most appropriate to us and the city."

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 17 in Leavenworth County District Court.

The lawsuit, which names the city of Basehor as the defendant, claims the City Council acted "unreasonably" and "unlawfully" in making its decision.

The lawsuit also claims council members made a decision that went against a previous Planning Commission vote to recommend approval (5-0 to rezone) and a staff report recommending approval.

Basehor City Attorney John Thompson said the lawsuit is currently under review, and that the denial of the rezoning would stand for now.

"Until proven otherwise, (the City Council's) denial of the rezoning was appropriate," Thompson said. "Perhaps the only way it will be resolved is with a hearing."

The council does have the discretion to deny rezoning. But what Commercial Group must prove for a successful lawsuit is that council members "acted in a capricious or arbitrary way," Thompson said.

It is unknown at this point whether the city will fight the lawsuit in court.

However, City Council member Chris Garcia backed the council's decision to deny the rezoning.

"I'm just trying to figure out what leg they're trying to stand on," Garcia said. "It wasn't a done deal. I think we all looked at it hard, but decided we want commercial in there instead of multi-family."

Commercial Group wanted the ground switched from commercial use to residential so the company could place a low-income senior housing development on the property.

However, approximately 200 nearby residents showed up at the meeting to voice their disapproval of the development.

Garcia said the residents' input at meeting was taken into consideration, but it was not the sole reason for the decision.

"It boils down to, is this a good fit for the area . . . and . . . it's a citizen's right to say I live here and don't want this in my back yard," he said.

The residents also circulated a petition because the development would have a "significant negative impact on our lives, property values and our community," said Lester Johnson, a spokesperson for the Crestwood subdivision property owners.

Johnson said residents would continue to fight the development.

"Whatever it takes," Johnson said. "If we got 200 people to sign the petition before, we're willing to get 600 people to sign to fight this thing."

"(Last time) we decided to take this to the entire city of Basehor," he added. "It wasn't just the people of Crestwood, it was the entire city that was opposed to it. We just don't feel like this is what we need in Basehor."

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