Chapel Ridge foes file lawsuit against Platte County Commission

It’s ridiculous that we get eight out of nine votes and lose because Jason Brown thinks he’s king of the world. CHAPEL RIDGE ATTORNEY BILL QUITMEIER  The fate of the proposed Chapel Ridge subdivision is now in the hands of the court. 

Attorney Bill Quitmeier filed a petition Dec. 23 on behalf of Larry J. Sickman of Kansas City, with a total of 42 plaintiffs, asking for the court to review the case and halt the development. The summons was issued to the defendant, Platte County, on Dec. 30 with a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. March 17 with Judge Abe Shafer. This begins the next phase in a story that started in July 2013 when developer Brian Mertz of PC Homes LLC filed a rezoning application for the 143 acres off Highway 45 near Parkville. In September, the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission heard the application before a packed house of mostly those opposed to it and voted unanimously against it. In November, a revised application for a planned residential development went before the Planning and Zoning Commission again and again it was unanimously denied. On Dec. 2 it went before the County Commission on appeal. Second District Commissioner Duane Soper recused himself from the vote and 1st District Commissioner Beverlee Roper ultimately voted no. Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown cast one vote and in Soper’s absence, Brown’s vote carried the weight of two, allowing for a 2-1 passage of the rezoning request. Within a week, Dave Rainey, the Sioux Township representative on the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission, resigned. Rainey said he felt he wasn’t needed on the Planning and Zoning Commission due to the actions of the County Commission. It is Brown’s controversial vote that features prominently in the suit filed. “It’s ridiculous that we get eight out of nine votes and lose because Jason Brown thinks he’s king of the world,” Quitmeier told The Citizen. “It’s amazing that he wouldn’t defer to the Planning and Zoning Commission, to those who did the work and listened to the evidence.” Quitmeier said he believed Brown should rescind his vote, which he says steals property value from those living all around the development and gives it directly to Mertz. He also had harsh words for Platte County Planning and Zoning staff, which had recommended approval of the applications. “What planning is that staff doing?” he said. “I would like to see a project they’ve turned down because it seems that whenever a project comes in they just rubber stamp it.” Brown said that as with any pending litigation facing the County, he had no comment on the matter. The suit filed asks for a writ of certiorari — asking Shafer to review the decision made by Brown at the Dec. 2 meeting –—declaratory judgment and then a temporary restraining order leading to a permanent injunction against the development. “Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown had previously been asked to recuse himself from the vote because of his ties to Platte Valley Bank (also a financing body for the project),” the petition states. “At this Dec. 2 meeting of the Platte County Commission the Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown offered material amendments to this PR (planned residential) development plan that he had ‘conjured up’ prior to the meeting and the developer PC Homes LLC immediately accepted these amendments without discussion.” In the petition, Quitmeier calls the PR zoning “arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious,” and said the material amendments to the plan presented by Brown were in violation of the open meetings law. He also contends that the modification of the plan was not reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission as required under County ordinance. He states the rezoning is in violation of both the established PR district ordinances and the Platte County Future Land Use Plan. PR zoning requires park land to be set aside in accordance with a formula.