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Developer files suit against Platte City

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Area development company Sunflower Midwest LLC has filed a six count lawsuit against Platte City alleging that certain city officials "acted arbitrarily, capriciously and in excess of their authority" by denying them a building permit.

In court papers filed by the developer's attorney, Bob Shaw of Platte City, the plaintiff alleges that the city planning and zoning commission approved a proposed final platting for lot #148 in Platte Valley Estates but then refused to issue a building permit. The lawsuit goes on to allege that similiar lots had been approved, and that by failing to approve this particular lot the city had "effected a taking of the (plaintiff's) property without just compensation."

Shaw declined comment for this story.

The dispute centers around the proposed setback for a single occupancy dwelling. City zoning regulations say that a dwelling must be setback 30-feet from the street. According to court papers, Lot #148 is a corner lot adjacent to Fox Run Trail and Ensign Hill Drive. The proposed building would be setback 30-feet from Fox Run Trail, but only 21-feet feet from Ensign Hill Drive.

Plaintiffs allege that the final plat was approved by Platte City Planning and Zoning Commission in May of 2001, and subsequently approved by the Platte City Board of Alderman in June of that year. Failure to issue the building permit cost the developer the chance to sell the property to Ernst Brothers Construction, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit, which names City Administrator Keith Moody and Platte City Code Enforcement Officer Tom Wooddell as defendants, is for unspecified damages plus attorney and court fees.

Both Moody and Wooddell are being sued only in their official capacities and not as individuals.

Moody said the code enforcement's decision to deny the permit was upheld by the planning commission (the commission voted 2-2 on Sept. 30, 2003 to uphold the decision) and said the developer had other options besides the lawsuit.

"They can submit a site plan that complies with the zoning regulations," Moody said.