If there’s a special place in the afterlife for legislators who parlay their constituents’ confidence into a boon for their customers, then Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) is certainly working hard to get there.
Lee, an attorney, added a floor amendment to the already-troubling House Bill 72 to make it even worse, and potentially help one of his clients.
HB 72 essentially puts a heavy thumb on the scales of justice in zoning case appeals. Under HB 72, the side that wins in a zoning dispute at the circuit court level could ask the judge to slap a bond on the other side if it chooses to appeal the ruling.
If the judge decided the appeal is frivolous that bond could be as high as $250,000; even if the judge thinks the appeal makes sense the bond could be as high as $100,000.
Many opponents of the bill, including the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council, which has voted to oppose the legislation, and many of the neighborhood associations in Lee’s hometown, contend HB 72 would make it more expensive, and therefore more difficult, for neighbors concerned about proposed developments to fight them in the courts.
That doesn’t seem to bother Lee but he did tack on an amendment to carve out an exception for churches, one of which — Clays Mill Baptist Church — he has represented in several land-use cases.
Lee contends his amendment is not about Clays Mill but about protecting all churches. “They don’t have the money to post a bond. What money they do have is spent on missionary work or feeding the hungry.”
And paying their attorneys?