Friday, February 26, 2016

Part 2 - City of Shawnee Sued - Vantage Saga Continues

In yesterday's post I discussed the recent filing of a lawsuit by QRIVIT LLC against the City of Shawnee.  If you haven't read that post yet, you might want to scroll down and read it.

Let's look at what the possible outcomes of the lawsuit could be.  Now, keep in mind, these are my personal, non-legal opinions. 

City wins the lawsuit:  OK, this ends the situation.  Primary item to consider would be what has been the cost to defend and win the suit.  Legal fees can be high.  Primary items would be number of hours put into the case, whether or not court appearances were necessary.  Research time to find out how previous cases with similar situations were handled.

City loses the lawsuit: this could be problematical.   First, the city would have the fees it cost to defend the suit.  The city might have to cover the plaintiff's legal fees.  What would be the amount of the financial reimbursements/penalties the city would be required to make to the plaintiff.  Would the project (Vantage) be court ordered to be permitted to be built?  If so, which version?  The one from the most recent council meeting (which was a little smaller, and the green areas were a little larger, and the buildings were set back a little more)  or would it be the original plan?

This will get interesting to say the least.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

City of Shawnee Sued - The Vantage Saga Continues

In case you haven't heard, the City of Shawnee is being sued by QRIVIT, LLC as a result of the failed Vantage at Shawnee project.  Shawnee Dispatch article here  The case number is 16CV01076 and is filed in Johnson County.

Let me see if I can explain exactly what has transpired.  QRIVIT, LLC is the owner of the property where the developers wanted to build Vantage at Shawnee.  I believe they had what was called a conditional sale pending.  The developers would buy the property on the condition that the city approved the rezoning and accordingly the project.

The Planning Commission approved the rezoning and the project. Various property owners in the immediate area of the project were not in favor of it.  There is a provision in K.S.A. 12-757 for individuals to sign a protest petition against a project.  Basically, if individuals who own 25% or more of the property, within a 200' buffer of the project location (excluding city ROW) then there is a modified procedure for the City Council to give final approval.  The Council would have to approve the project by a super majority (7 of 9) in order for it to proceed.  As such, the required council threshold was not met and the project died.  Apparently, the plaintiff in the lawsuit is claiming losses as a result of the council turning the project down.  Some on the council voted the project down because they didn't think it was a good fit for the area, and others supported the petitioners. 

Now let's look at some interesting numbers.  There are 1,016,419 sq. ft. of land within the 200' buffer area surrounding the project.  There were 22 individuals who signed the protest petitions which accounted for 276,032 sq. ft. or 27.15% of the protest area.  That met the statutory requirements.  Now what about the 72.85% of the land or approximately 740,000 sq. ft.  Large portions of the land are owned by the city, a major utility, a church and a major retailer.  Also, portions of 28 other residential properties are included.  Now, that could include more than 28 individuals since many properties probably have multiple owners.

Now the city will have to expend funds to defend the lawsuit.  What happens if the city loses the suit?  How much in damages would it be required to pay?  Keep in mind the "city" is us, because the city's money comes from the taxpayers, all of us.  Depending on the costs, it is possible that funds might have to be diverted or reallocated from other projects and/or services.

Now, the 22 folks who signed the protest petitions had every legal right to do so.  The state law is clear on that.  But what has now happened is that the actions of those 22 folks have now possibly placed a financial burden on the rest of the city.  So I have a few questions for those 22 folks:

1.  Would you be willing to pay into a fund to reimburse your neighbors and the rest of the city for the costs associated with defending the lawsuit?

2.  If the city loses the lawsuit would you be willing to pay into a fund to reimburse your neighbors and the rest of the city for the costs associated with any loss awarded by the court?

3.  Would those individuals who as attorneys spoke against the project be willing to donate  (pro bono) their services to help the city defend against the lawsuit?

This just started, so it will be awhile before the judicial outcome is finalized.  It is going to get interesting.  Now I'm going to play devil's advocate here.  There may be some individuals that might be upset about the possibility of the city (us) having to spend substantial sums of money because of this.  Before those individuals get upset, remember, there may come a day when you might want to sign a protest petition against a proposed building project in your neighborhood. Now that could be a wild possibility............

Monday, February 08, 2016

Vantage Apartment Project Causes Dissension - Part III

Here is some interesting information for folks to consider.

Remember that because of the protest petitions it would have taken a super majority of the council to approve the project, which never happened.

Now let's talk about those protest petitions.  It is not the number of people who signed, it is the  amount of land that they own that is important for a protest petition.  To be valid the protest petition has to be signed by owners that have 20% of the land that is within a 200 foot buffer of the proposed area to be rezoned, excepting rights of way, public streets and roadways.

The area within the 200 foot of the buffer zone is 1,016,419 square feet and the petitions with signatures encompassed 276,032 square feet or 27.15% of the protest area.

Now, here is how the ownership breaks down:

22 individuals signed the petitions that met the requirements

17 of those people are registered to vote at the addresses on the petitions.....the other 5 may either not be registered or they may be registered at another location and possibly rent out those properties

9 of those folks voted in the last city election (April 2015)

4 of those folks voted in the mayoral primary election (March 2015)

Those are the numbers.  Interpret them as you wish.

An interesting side note is something that happened last Monday night at the council committee meeting.   There was an item on the agenda concerning fencing around swimming pools and a new style of pool covers.  Anyway, safety of young children was an important part of the discussion.  Guess what?  I didn't see one person from the Vantage protest group at that meeting.  Actually, how many council meetings do they attend?   Anyway, it was an apartment resident who presented the info to the committee about the high number of unattended children's deaths at swimming pools.  The info is available from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).  I guess those folks don't really care about the safety of young children?