MO Court of Appeals Blocks Condemnation of Burger King

In a recent case, City of North Kansas City, Missouri v. K.C. Beaton Holding Company, WD76068 and WD76110 (Mo. Court of Appeals, Western District), the Missouri Court of Appeals denied an effort by North Kansas City to condemn a Burger King located at 1911 Armour Road. The City filed a petition to condemn the property on  March 12, 2012 as part of its efforts to redevelop a 57-acre area at the southeast corner of Armour Road and Interstate 29/35.

The city argued that it had the power to condemn the property because it was within the designated redevelopment area. Perry Beaton, the property owner, rejected the City’s offer to purchase the property for $850,000. He stated that he wanted to continue running his business, that his business was in good condition, and that he “simply did not want to go.”

The property owners were represented by Owner’s Counsel Missouri representative Robert Denlow, of Denlow & Henry. Mr. Denlow noted that Burger King creates jobs and pay substantial sales taxes and real estate taxes to the city. He also noted that the City was trying to “forcibly take a successful business site for the eventual purpose of turning it over to a for-profit developer.”

According to news reports, the City admitted that the property was in good condition. Nevertheless, the City attempted to condemn the property, claiming it was a blighted area.

The trial court held a hearing, after which the circuit court dismissed the City’s petition to condemn the property on January 23, 2013. The City appealed. Earlier this week a three judge panel unanimously upheld the trial court’s dismissal rejecting the City’s condemnation efforts.

According to PRWEB:

The court focused on whether the City under Statute 88.497 had the right to condemn for the purposes of eliminating blight. Chief Judge James Edward Welsh authored the opinion holding that “[t]he City does not have the authority to condemn the Burger King property under section 88.497 for the purpose of eliminating blight.” (January 14, 2014 Opinion, p. 10).

Welsh wrote: “The circuit court ruled that, although the City complied with the requirements for blighting the property, the City did not have the authority to condemn the Burger King property under section 88.497 for the ‘public purpose’ of eliminating blight.” (Opinion, pg. 6) He continued: “We find nothing within section 88.497 which expressly gives third class cities the power of eminent domain to eliminate blight, nor do we find anything within section 88.497 which necessarily implies that third class cities have such power. A third class city’s general authority to condemn under section 88.497 ‘for any other necessary public purposes’ is not sufficient to condemn for blight without a manifested intent by the legislature stating in express terms or by necessary implication that third class cities have such authority.” (Opinion pg. 9)

This case is significant because challenges to condemnation efforts are rarely successful. In this case the Court properly rejected the City’s effort to take a a successful business, in a thinly veiled effort to sell the land for a private developer. The full opinion can be read here.

Posted in Challenging condemnation, Condemnation Procedures, Eminent Domain Abuse
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