The City of Neosho’s latest motion in their legal challenge of the Neosho Transportation Development District was denied this week, according to online court records.
According to Missouri CaseNet, the request for oral arguments ran out of time.
The motion was made Monday, Nov. 4 and was denied on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Neosho TDD board chairman Steve Roark said it is his understanding that the parties are allowed a 10-day time period to request oral arguments and that the city had missed the deadline.
Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said no one in the case had asked for oral arguments in the beginning.
“It came down to ‘well, if somebody’s going to ask, we’d might as well ask,’” Davidson said. “Not out of necessity, but just ask to preserve the ability.”
Davidson said with the court declining the request, that means the court can now take the briefs each side has filed and make their decision without the verbal argument.
“I think it does move it along quicker, which I think is a good thing for everyone to get an answer,” Davidson said.
Roark said it had been the hopes of the TDD board that the legal argument would not include oral arguments, because TDD attorneys said it could cost anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 for that portion of the hearing.
“As much as we’ve spent so far, all of us want to nip these things in the bud,” Roark said.
He said it’s unclear when the case will move forward, it could be sometime at the start of 2014, though he is hopeful it will be addressed before the holidays.
“We still have great confidence in our legal position,” Roark said.
The city is contesting the district under a subsection of a state law under which the TDD was founded.
Davidson told residents in a town hall meeting in October that the city’s understanding is that under the subsection, only residents who live within the TDD boundaries can vote to form a district. The mayor said there are no residents in the district, therefore, the ballot forming the district was invalid.
Though, Roark pointed to a November 2012 court ruling in the TDD’s favor in saying that the entity is in fact valid.
“The truth of the matter is that we are quite legal,” Roark said.
In Nov. 2012, Newton County Judge Kevin Selby ruled against the city’s challenge of the TDD and cited the “doctrine of laches,” suggesting that the city had waited too long to bring the issue forward.
“One key point I want to reemphasize is the city’s desire to get an answer, not necessarily an answer one way or another but an answer,” Davidson said. “We’ve said all along that we didn’t feel Judge Selby answered the question.”
The city filed a notice of appeal in January.
In April the TDD filed a motion for dismissal, though the courts decided to take that motion with the case.
In recent public city council discussions, council members Steve Hart and David Ruth have voiced support for dropping the appeal, though the two lost a recent vote that asked the council to do so.
The first of the TDD projects, a traffic light at Highway 60 and Kodiak Road, was completed this year, though the remaining planned projects have been put on hold pending the outcome of the legal battle between the TDD and the city.
Roark said the TDD board expects to have a detailed economic impact study regarding their planned projects available soon.