Suit ends; developer seeks lot variance

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A lawsuit filed by a Cape Gir-ardeau developer aimed at the city and Mayor Jay Knudtson has ended.

David Damick, a St. Louis lawyer who represented Rodney Arnold's suit against the city and Knudtson said the case was dismissed July 23.

"That's pretty much all I'm at liberty to tell you. ... I believe all feelings are OK on all sides," he said.

Arnold filed suit in November over statements made to the Southeast Missourian by Knudtson in an Oct. 25 story about the 140-lot Whispering Oaks subdivision, off of County Road 620.

Knudtson's comments came after Whispering Oaks homeowners expressed their displeasure on learning Arnold was building duplexes in what they thought would be a neighborhood of single-family homes. Knudtson was quoted as saying he was disappointed about the change, "whether it is through deception or miscommunication," and that "This many people can't all be wrong" about homeowners' claims that Arnold had promised to build only single-family homes.

Arnold, contacted by phone for this story, referred all questions about Whispering Oaks to attorney Nancy Brown, who did not respond to messages left at her office before press time.

Knudtson characterized the suit as "simply a misunderstanding from the beginning.

"It's in the best interest for all involved to move forward," he said.

That suit has no connection to a request for a variance in Arnold's Whispering Oaks subdivision, set for a board of adjustment review at 7 p.m. Thursday, sources on both sides of the lawsuit said.

According to city inspector Tim Morgan, Arnold is asking the board to alter setback allowances on nine lots in the The Meadows of Whispering Oaks development.

Morgan said the lots, part of a cul-de-sac, have unusual shapes and sizes. According to plans submitted to the board, the properties range from a quarter acre to more than 1.5 acres.

Existing homes along the cul-de-sac, built before the neighborhood was annexed by the city, exceed the city's setback of 30 feet by about five feet, Morgan said, and would be two feet closer to property lines on the side yards, partly because of topography.

"The lots fall downward very quickly, so he built closer to the road than normally would be allowed," he said.

The variance request would make homes on the nine remaining lots conform to existing setbacks, Morgan said.

The city council does not have jurisdiction over the variance request process, Knudtson said.

As far as the new neighborhood goes, he said, it is "a very good development for Cape Gir-ardeau."

335-6611, extension 127

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