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Judge dismisses lawsuit by Chapel Ridge foes

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A judge has dismissed a case brought by opponents to a high density housing development.

Judge Gerald D. McBeth, brought in to hear the lawsuit after Platte County judges had recused themselves, has dismissed the case “without prejudice,” according to records listed on Casenet.

Interestingly, the judge’s order ruling the dismissal does not state reasons as to why the dismissal is being granted. And an attorney in the case says the judge’s order does not use the words “without prejudice.”

Platte County, on multiple grounds, had asked the court to dismiss the case, which was filed “vs. Platte County, Missouri” by opponents to the proposed Chapel Ridge housing development.

Developer Brian Mertz of PC Homes LLC was approved for the high density subdivision on 143 acres off of Hwy. 45 near Parkville.

Michael Keleher, an attorney representing Platte County in the matter, said the county had listed several grounds on which the case should be dismissed. Most of those dealt with the plaintiffs’ “failure to comply with procedural requirements of the litigation,” he said.

“We don’t know why or what reasons the court used,” Keleher told The Landmark on Tuesday. “The order does not say ‘without prejudice,’” Keleher said.

Bill Quitmeier, attorney representing more than 40 plaintiffs in the case against the county, said: “I don’t want to say too much because we will appeal this ruling.

Judge McBeth entered his ruling as an order and not a judgment. As an order, the case is not final and thus not appealable; the case remains open. Once, and if, we receive a judgment of dismissal we will file an appeal to the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals,” Quitmeier told The Landmark this week.

Mertz, the developer, said it is too soon to discuss what effect the judge’s ruling last week has on timing of his development.

“I have not met with my legal counsel yet to see where this puts us,” Mertz told The Landmark on Tuesday. “I’m sure they (the opponents) will appeal.”

Mertz said that after a discussion with his attorneys he will evaluate his position.

Approval of the subdivision was granted with Jason Brown, presiding county commissioner, casting the deciding vote. Beverlee Roper, first district commissioner was opposed. Duane Soper, second district commissioner, had recused himself, citing ties with a bank involved in the project.

Under state statute, the vote of the presiding commissioner counts as two votes in what would otherwise have been a 1-1 split.

The Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission, an advisory board appointed by the commissioners, had recommended the project be denied.

The county’s paid professional planning and zoning staff had recommended approval of the project.

Keleher is representing the county in the litigation because after Bob Shaw, county counselor, had cited a conflict in proceedings involving Chapel Ridge from the project’s proposed inception.