Judge Sherlock to Missoula’s Lawsuiters: Ahhh…Not So Much

by jhwygirl

Good Fantastic news this afternoon for pro zoning reform in the City of Missoula. Judge Sherlock has released his 9 page opinion which denies Lawsuiters Dick Haines & Renee Mitchell (Councilpersons for Ward 5) and Ward 4’s Lyn Hellegaard their Writ of Mandate, seeking the city to comply with public noticing requirements.

At the heart of their complaint was the idea that the city should send an individualized notice to each and every property owner in the city telling them precisely how they would be affected by the zoning rewrite.

The scores of public meetings, of stakeholder meetings, of public notices, of public information put on on the cities website, the public hearings themselves – and even the scores of stories written by Missoulian reporters was not enough for these Lawsuiters…..but apparently, was enough for Judge Sherlock.

If you see any of these people this weekend? Thank them for wasting taxpayer time and money (in the form of City Attorney and his staff Jim Nugent, along with the Office of Planning & Grant’s staff time…plus the reams of paper generated).

Now let’s see what they do. The core of their complaint – as they state it – is the lack of public involvement. Since that legal question has been asked and answered – by a judge – let’s see how they vote now that the issue has all been cleared up for them.

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  1. klemz

    I can’t read the opinion — it’s coming up corrupted. A lack of notice in violation of what? The Montana Constitution? Certainly not the Due Process clause. I want to know how absurd this argument was.

    • It’s working for me and I’m accessing it now from a public computer.

      Anyone else having this problem?

      Klemz? Put “lawsuiters” into our search, and you will see two previous posts, one of which links to the lawsuit they submitted.

  2. Ryan Morton

    The City Council is poised to vote on the proposed zoning ordinance Monday, Oct. 5 (meeting starts at 7 pm in CC Chambers next to Sean Kelly’s). This may be the last opportunity to speak on the rewrite if you still have issues of concern. Please attend or email comments asap!

  3. Jim

    These folks couldn’t even win a lawsuit when they sue themselves. At least when Ballas sued himself he won.

  4. Thomas Paine

    I hope voters will keep this decision in mind when each is up for reelection. Hendrickson was a party to this in spirit if not actual name. The people who seem to complain the most about how the city spends taxpayer dollars just wasted a chunk of it because they weren’t personally getting the outcome they wanted, which was to kill the rewrite.

    • Y ou are correct. Both Ward 2 incumbent John Hendrickson and Ward 4 (unchallenged) incumbent Jon Wilkins were party to this in spirit.

      In the post above, I link to an older post which included a link (dead) to a Missoulian link editorial by all 5 of these Lawsuiters. I went and found it this morning. It’s now updated.

      I’ve corrected the categories to include Hendrickson and Wilkins now.

      To note, though: Hendrickson has said publicly that he would vote for the zoning update if the writ was denied. Wilkins is holding his cards close, saying that people will just have to “come to the meeting and find out for yourself.”

      That’s probably more the result of him not having pow-wowed with his fellow Lawsuiters yet – to determine their strategy for how they’ll vote.

      Vote No? No with speeches? Yes? Yes with speeches? Or bitter silence?

      Wonder which one of ’em is the best speechwriter.

      No matter what, bring the popcorn – the show, regardless, will be interesting.

      I almost think someone should say “Speak thee now, or forever hold your peace,” because you know we’ll be hearing about how it was wrong, for now and hereinafter.

  5. You know, I think you’re being a little harsh j-girl. I’m no legal expert, but I felt they had a point concerning public notification.

    Despite many attempts to read the website, talk with OPG staffers, and ask my neighbors, I still don’t know how this will change the zoning of my property. Normally when zoning changes you receive a statement of those potential changes – the letter I got didn’t do that.

    While I don’t like council members suing the city, it can be a drastic part of good governance and as Renee Mitchell was quoted in the Missoulian as saying, “I was elected to represent my constituents, and I did what I thought was in the best interest of making sure their rights were being protected.”

    • ricardo

      How many constituents does Mitchell really represent on this issue? The most accurate thing we can probably say is that some citizens of Ward 5 support the lawsuit and some don’t. Was Mitchell representing the latter group? Mitchell abstains from some votes. Who is she representing then? It is all a bunch of rhetoric to make a misguided decision that lacks integrity look better.




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