Members of the Wyndamere neighborhood filed a lawsuit in Bourbon Circuit Court this month alleging the city of Paris improperly approved a zone change for a Paris golf course for a project it won’t disclose.
The lawsuit is asking a judge to overturn the vote by the Paris City Commission on Aug. 30 to approve the zone change for the 48-acre golf course from conservation to light industrial. The city commission’s unanimous vote overturned a decision by the Paris-Bourbon Joint Planning Commission on Aug. 16 to deny the city of Paris’ request to rezone the property.
The city had an option to purchase the property but did not own the property at the time the zone change was requested. City officials also remained mum on why the zone change was needed.
“These Paris City officials also contended that nondisclosure agreements prohibited them from revealing who the ultimate industrial purchaser or user would be of the Stoner Creek Club,” the lawsuit said. The lawsuit was filed by five residents of the Wyndamere subdivision, which is adjacent to the golf course, one of the oldest-continuing operating golf courses in the state.
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Daron Jordan, the Paris city manager, said the city had just received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment on it. But Jordan said the city has been approached by multiple individuals who want to locate to Paris.
“These conversations have included the property in question,” Jordan said. “To date no offer to purchase, or lease, the property in question has been presented to the city commission for consideration.”
The city has long argued the zone change was needed to create more jobs in Paris.
“The legal filing, by these five individuals, challenge our efforts to reach these goals,” Jordan said. “We look forward to presenting our case in court and continue to focus on the betterment of the whole community.”
The city commission held two specially-called meetings on Aug. 28 and Aug. 30 for the sole purpose of approving the zone change. No member of the commission spoke about the zone change and why they opposed it. Just prior to the vote on Aug. 30, a lawyer for the city read a 33-point “conclusion of fact” that the city used to justify overturning the commission’s vote.
Yet, none of those conclusions of fact were discussed during an open meeting prior to the commission’s vote, the lawsuit alleges.
The planning commission’s minutes of its meeting and its findings of fact were neither approved or prepared prior to the city commission’s vote, the lawsuit alleges.
During the Aug. 18 planning commission meeting, professional planning staff recommended the city-county planning body turn down the request to rezone the property to industrial because it was contrary to the comprehensive plan, which guides planning. Altering the zoning from the most restrictive to the less restrictive -- industrial -- would not be in keeping with the surrounding zoning, the planning staff noted in its report.
Bruce Simpson, a lawyer for residents in the Wyndamere subdivision, wrote in the lawsuit that there was no need for additional industrial-zoned land in Bourbon County because there were currently 150 acres zoned industrial and an additional 255 acres of vacant land had been identified in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan to be rezoned industrial.
“This bizarre decision of the Paris City Commission must be set aside as null, void and without effect,” Simpson wrote in the lawsuit.