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2-26-14

Court asked to dismiss
Chapel Ridge lawsuit
Outside judge will be appointed


by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Platte County has filed a motion asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by opponents of the high-density housing development known as Chapel Ridge.

But what judge will rule on the motion--and when that will happen--remains a mystery.

Judges in the Platte County Circuit Court Sixth Judicial Circuit have recused themselves from the case. The case originally had been assigned to Judge Abe Shafer, who has recently retired but has still been hearing cases while new judges have been appointed in a series of moves to get a full bench back on board.

The motion to dismiss the case was originally set to be heard last week, but has been delayed pending the assignment of a judge. A judge will be assigned to the case by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Local judges recusing themselves in a suit against the county is not an unusual thing and not unexpected.

Attorney Bill Quitmeier filed the lawsuit Dec. 23 on behalf of more than 40 plaintiffs, asking for the court to review the case and stop the development.

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

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.

Platte County is being represented in the lawsuit by attorney Mike Keleher. From the beginning of the project, Bob Shaw, county counselor, cited a conflict in proceedings involving Chapel Ridge.