Archive for Thursday, October 23, 2003

Sides set for mediation session to resolve civil lawsuit against Basehor

October 23, 2003

This week, a mediator will help decide whether a civil lawsuit naming the city of Basehor as defendant should proceed with a court hearing. An exact date of the mediation session was not immediately available as of press time.

In March, Cedar Lakes residents Gary and Artie Wells filed a lawsuit in Leavenworth County District Court alleging the city acted "unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious," in approving a rezoning request for the Pinehurst development during a meeting a month earlier.

If a settlement is not agreed upon, the case is scheduled for a hearing in district court Nov. 7. Legal briefs concerning the case were filed Friday, Oct. 17.

Basehor city attorney John Thompson said the mediation is a step in the right direction toward resolving the issue.

"It's an attempt to get everyone together and say 'how can we solve this thing'," Thompson said.

The City Council also supports settling the dispute without litigation, Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said this week.

"The city would like to see this resolved as quickly as possible," Scherer said.

Attorney's representing the Wells', the Pinehurst development and the city's representation, Thompson, are expected to attend the mediation session.

The Pinehurst development is a 98-acre tract located south of Kansas Highway 24/40 across from the Basehor Town Square. It is a development slated to include commercial, retail and residential uses.

The lawsuit centers on a decision made by the City Council in February to approve rezoning for the development from rural residential to commercial and planned residential.

Nearby residents, primarily from the Cedar Lakes and Briarwood developments, opposed Pinehurst in part because of development plans to build a 248-unit apartment complex.

Opponents claimed tenants of the apartment complex would adversely affect their property values and quality of life. Tenants living in the apartments would also add crime and be a detriment to local schools, opponents said.

A valid protest petition was in place for the meeting.

Despite the opposition, the City Council approved the rezoning, 4-1.

The Wells lawsuit is asking the court to enter a judgement that the rezoning was illegal and to overturn the decision. The couple also wants to recoup legal fees accrued from filing the lawsuit.

Thompson said, ideally, the city wants to resolve the lawsuit outside the confines of district court. However if the case does go before a judge, the attorney is confident City Council members acted in reasonable fashion when deciding on the rezoning.

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