Lee’s Summit wins Walmart lawsuit

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 17, 2014 

A Jackson County judge agreed with Lee’s Summit this week that a couple suing the city over a rezoning for Walmart Supercenter didn’t have standing to sue because their property is too distant from the store’s site.

Judge Kenneth Garrett on April 14 issued his ruling in the case of Richard and Paula McMillin who challenged the city’s rezoning to permit construction of the store at 3410 SW Market St., in south Lee’s Summit.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had put construction of the store on hold for about a year while waiting for resolution of the case. One judge had dismissed it, but the McMillin’s appealed and got the case reinstated in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Garrett’s ruling said the couple’s that claim their property is in “close proximity” was insufficient to allow them a court remedy.

The McMillin’s address is 2.1 miles from the Walmart site and that linear distance is 1.96 miles, or 2.33 miles traveing by street. The judge said that is “much farther than the 1.2 miles” that was considered a “great separation” in a Missouri Court of Appeals decision on a case that said the plaintiff in that case was “too remote from the rezoned area.”

The McMillins, in their suit, also alleged that the Lee’s Summit City Council didn’t correctly follow its procedures for a rezoning needed for a portion of the land needed for the store.

The Walmart proposal caused controversy because some residents in the area were concerned it would increase traffic congestion and crime. Wal-Mart made concessions to make additional road improvements as part of agreements with the city for the project to go forward.

It was to be an newer model store, with skylights and other advances in lighting and energy efficiency and recycling.

The city has approved agreements for the project that can be executed when purchase of the land is final, said Christine Bushyhead, a lawyer who represented the project for the discount store company. The purchase had been delayed because of the lawsuit and timing is still uncertain because of the possibility of appeal, she said.

Douglas Patterson, attorney for the McMillins, did not reply to a request for comment.

Mayor Randy Rhoads said, “We’re glad it’s over, it’s been bouncing around for about a year, causing loss of potential revenues for the city.”

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