Court finds in favor of Ellisville in conditional use permit suit
In a case of David v. Goliath, Ellisville resident Tom DeBold took on city hall and retail giant Walmart. But unlike David, DeBold lost the fight.
On Feb. 26, a ruling handed down by St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Lee Vincent III found in favor of the city of Ellisville and its City Council in approving “Walmart Stores, Inc.’s and Sansone Group, Inc.’s application for a conditional use permit and site development plan approval to allow the construction and operation of a general merchandise department store over 50,000 square feet with multiple tenant space, a structure over 30 feet in height with a drive-through, and the sale of every class of liquors by the package, including Sunday sales.”
DeBold filed a lawsuit in November contending that the city of Ellisville had ignored community welfare in issuing a conditional use permit for the development of a Walmart Superstore to be located on Manchester Road at the site of the Clarkchester Apartments. On Jan. 29, DeBold had his day in court.Among those answering questions in court were Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul and City Clerk Catherine Demeter.
Paul noted in an earlier interview that one of the concerns DeBold’s attorney, Jane Ellen Dueker, had was in regard to the 25-foot setback required of new construction. Duecker accused the city of violating one of its own ordinances requiring a 25-foot setback by including an 8-foot wide sidewalk in the setback.
Duecker also said the city did not have all affected property owners sign a consent form for the conditional use permit and, according to Demeter, three signatures were missing.
But perhaps the biggest issue in question had to do with how the city chose its legal counsel for the case.
“We have to have approval from the Council to choose counsel for the city,” Paul explained. “I was asked if I had ever voted on this. I said no.”
Despite the concerns expressed by DeBold and his attorney, Judge Vincent found “competent and substantial evidence in the record to support the city’s decision to grant a conditional use permit and to support the city’s findings that each and every conditional use permit criteria set out in the city code has been met.”