Archive for Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Basehor zoning suits set for trial; settlement likely, says city attorney

May 28, 2003

Although city officials doubt either will be decided in court, two lawsuits naming the city of Basehor as defendant are scheduled to proceed.

Both lawsuits stem from rezoning decisions made by the Basehor City Council earlier this year.

Last week in Leavenworth County District Court, deadlines were scheduled for various steps in the litigation process for civil lawsuits filed by Gary and Artie Wells and Commercial Group of Topeka, which both name the city as defendants.

Although both cases appear to be moving forward, Basehor city attorney John Thompson said he thinks the cases will be settled before ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.

"These cases are moving forward, although I believe there are serious efforts to settle these cases short of litigation," Thompson told City Council members Monday night.

City officials have denied wrongdoing in both civil complaints filed against Basehor.

The Wells lawsuit, filed in February, alleges the City Council acted in an unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious manner when approving rezoning for the Pinehurst development.

Pinehurst is a 98-acre residential, commercial and retail area located across from the Basehor Town Square, south of U.S. Highway 24/40.

The development was granted rezoning -- rural residential to commercial and planned residential -- during a City Council meeting, despite opposition from residents of Briarwood and Cedar Lakes, nearby residential areas.

The Wells lawsuit is asking the court to declare the rezoning illegal and overturn the City Council's decision.

The couple, residents of Cedar Lakes, also want to recoup their legal fees.

The case is scheduled for trial Nov. 12.

The Commercial Group of Topeka lawsuit was filed in December.

It stems from the City Council's denial of Commercial Group's rezoning request in November for a four-acre tract of land at 155th Street and Crestwood Drive.

The lawsuit claims the city acted "unreasonably" and "unlawfully" when denying the rezoning request. Commercial Group is asking the court to either grant a new rezoning hearing or bypass the city's decision and rezone the property.

The development company wanted the land, slated for commercial use, rezoned to residential use so Commercial Group could build a low-income senior housing development on the site.

However, approximately 200 local residents opposed the development during the November hearing. Residents also circulated a petition against the development claiming it would negatively impact their lives, property values and community.

City officials said Commercial Group has been shopping the property on the open market.

The case is scheduled for trial Oct. 10.

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