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October 19th, 2012 — By — In News & Events

Eminent Domain Match-Up: Burger King over North Kansas City

North Kansas City is suffering from what one reporter has referred to as “legal heartburn” after a Clay County (Missouri) Circuit Judge found that the City of North Kansas City did not have the power to condemn a Burger King restaurant in an area the City wishes to redevelop.

In his October 1, 2012 order Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert wrote that the City failed to comply with the requirements of the proper Missouri statutes when it passed Blight Ordinance No. 8476 and the ordinance, therefore, is void.  Because the City did not have the authority to acquire certain real property in eminent domain proceedings and, further, did not meet Missouri ‘s statutory requirements for determining the property “blighted,” Judge Gabbert dismissed the condemnation action.

While the attorney representing the City has indicated that the City may appeal the judge’s decision, the property owner has won this round by defeating the taking and retaining ownership to the property.  (Unfortunately, Judge Gabbert did not award the owner attorneys’ fees, which may be awarded in other jurisdictions when a property owner defeats the taking.)

St. Louis attorney, Robert Denlow, the Missouri member of the Owners’ Counsel, defended the property owner in the condemnation action.  Denlow explained that this particular Burger King store is the most profitable of the 24 owned by the franchise operator.  He was quoted by the above-referenced reporter as saying:  “We’ve always told the City that we want to be a good citizen, but we wanted to be protected and want to be part of the community in the future.  If they want to develop the property, we said, ‘Great. have a developer talk to us.'”