by Alan McArthur
Hearings in lawsuits against the Platte County Commission and the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission have taken place in the past week.
Two lawsuits filed by Dudley Alexander against the Platte County Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission were combined into one case on Monday morning.
The lawsuit filed by Alexander alleges the two commissions did not have the right to deny the developer’s application for a preliminary plat for the Beverly Plaza development near the unincorporated community of Beverly, because, the lawsuit claims, the developer met a checklist of requirements from the planning and zoning department.
The Alexander lawsuit was transferred from Judge Abe Shafer to Judge Lee Hull. Shafer explained that his son owns property in the area near the proposed development and did not want there to be any question about his rulings on the case.
Alexander’s Beverly Plaza development was proposed at the intersection of 92 Highway and 45 Highway to include highway commercial development. The City of Weston had objected to the development because it did not fit into the city's historical district overlay. The property already had the required zoning and the developer was only seeking preliminary plat approval.
The planning and zoning commission denied the application and the county commission also denied the application on appeal.
The other lawsuit, filed by developer James Owens, against the county commission alleges he met all of the requirements the county has for approving the Bridle Parc development rezoning issue and should have been rezoned to allow the development. The Owens lawsuit is also being presided over by Shafer.
On Friday, Mary Jo Shaney representing Owens and Bob Shaw representing the county argued whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.
Shaney argued the commission did not have jurisdiction to deny the application because the approval of a rezoning application is an administrative activity and the commission is a legislative body.
Both lawyers referenced a similar case from Lafayette County involving a developer named Maurice Gash. The Missouri Supreme Court later ruled on the case on appeal, saying the county commission could deny a rezoning application.
Shaw argued that the case applied because the Missouri Supreme Court had ruled on the proceedings.
However, Shaney argued that since Lafayette County is a county of the fourth class and Platte County is a county of the first class, they have different governmental structures and the case does not apply. Also, Shaney argued the Gash lawsuit should not apply because there are issues in the Owens lawsuit, which are not addressed by the Gash lawsuit.
Shaney also argued that since the commission acts in a legislative manner by making and enacting laws applying to zoning issues they should not preside over zoning approval issues, which should be able to be appealed.
Shaney said the types of decisions that can be appealed are administrative and not legislative decisions.
“Anyone who's not happy with a decision made by an administrator can appeal,” said Shaney.
Shaney said the ability for appeal on an administrative issue is anchored in the Missouri Constitution and zoning issues should be administrative.
Shafer dismissed the first count of the lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment, but allowed the lawsuit to continue forward.
The Bridle Parc development is located east of Weatherby Lake and north of the Shelter Haven subdivision. The developer had asked for the property to be rezoned to accommodate a more dense development. The planning and zoning commission denied the application and the county commission denied the application also.
The Owens trial is not set to begin until Monday, March 2. According to Shaw, the reason for the six month delay is because of scheduling conflicts between the lawyers and judge.
As of Tuesday, a trial date had not been set for the Alexander lawsuit.