Tutera suit says Prairie Village council ‘bowed to the will of MVNA’

Joe Tutera presented an impassioned defense of his company's Mission Chateau proposal before the City Council in September — only to have the application denied.
Joe Tutera presented an impassioned defense of his company’s Mission Chateau proposal before the City Council in September — only to have the application denied.

Prairie Village administrators and elected officials on Wednesday were taking stock of the law suit filed against the city in Johnson County district court by MVS, LLC, the company which owns the Mission Valley site and is controlled by the Tutera Group.

The suit makes appeals on two counts related to the council’s Sept. 4 vote denying the Special Use Permit necessary to move Tutera’s 350,000-plus square foot senior living community proposal forward. The first count appeals the city’s denial of the permit, and the second seeks “declaratory judgment for violation of rights guaranteed by the Kansas constitution.”

The attorneys spend a good deal of time in the appeal taking aim at the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, “an entity of unknown composition…” that “never did disclose its membership — or even how many residents of Prairie Village that it claimed to represent,” and claims the six member of the council who voted against the project “bowed to the will of MVNA.”

In the 12-page appeal, Tutera’s lawyers suggest that “Kansas zoning statutes do not provide that special use applications are subject to protest petitions,” and therefore the simple majority of the council that voted in favor of the project should have been sufficient for approval.

“But for the filing of the protest petition — the City Code provision having been enacted as a result of a ‘plebiscite of the neighbors’ — the six-vote minority of the City Council that voted against approval of the Application — at the behest of MVNA — would have been without legal effect and the Application would have been approved by the seven-vote majority of the City Council,” the suit reads.

Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion said Wednesday afternoon that the city had no official comment on the suit at this time because administrators and the city attorney were still reviewing the suit.

Bennion said that, barring any additional action from the council, the city would defend the appeal. As for how that legal defense would be financed, Bennion had this to say:

The City does carry insurance with a spectrum of coverages and deductibles including elected official’s liability. The city’s insurance carrier has been notified of the appeal. The level of coverage is still being reviewed and determined by the carrier. In similar cases in the past, the carrier has determined that a zoning decision is administrative and, therefore, coverage is limited. The city’s deductible and other legal costs will be funded with the City’s legal budget included in the General Fund.

You can read the full suit below: