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Judge Rules Against Petitioners Demanding Vote On Downtown Hotel

Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit to force a vote on the downtown convention hotel deal.

The group Citizens for Responsible Government sued the city in Jackson County Court late last year after the Kansas City Council wouldn’t put their question on the ballot.

In oral arguments Feb. 2, the city argued that requiring a vote on the already-signed contracts to build a downtown convention hotel would violate tax increment financing law.

Judge Jennifer M. Phillips agreed, dismissing the lawsuit on Thursday.

“Currently, there is no election requirement in the TIF Act; it is actually the opposite – the TIF Act expressly prohibits an election requirement,” Phillips wrote. “Relators are attempting to impose an election requirement where none exists and disrupts the City Council’s legislative authority as granted by statute.”

The petitioners now have 30 days to ask Phillips to change her ruling or else appeal the decision.

“All due respect to the judge involved, but we think she got it wrong and possibly an appeals court will view it the same way we do,” wrote petitioner Dan Coffey in an email.

He hinted the petitioners were not ready to concede defeat.

“Round one went to the city,” Coffey wrote in closing.

According to the developer, the petitioners’ lawsuit has delayed work on the $311 million Hyatt hotel to be built east of Bartle Hall.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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