By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A court hearing is set Oct. 22 on the City of Yukon’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a recent city council decision to deny a property rezoning request on State Highway 66.
Attorneys for plaintiff Williams Family Investments LLC filed the civil action Aug. 11 in Canadian County District Court. The City of Yukon and Yukon City Council are listed as defendants.
City council members in July unanimously denied Williams Family Investments’ appeal of a planning commission recommendation to deny rezoning a 57.25-acre property for industrial use.
The applicant had sought the City of Yukon’s permission to rezone vacant land on the north side of SH-66 east of Cimarron Road from A (agriculture) to I-2 (heavy industrial).
Yukon city attorney Roger Rinehart, on Sept. 1, filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s petition for “insufficiency of service of process” and “lack of capacity of a party to be sued” under Oklahoma state statutes.
In a brief supporting the motion to dismiss, Rinehart wrote the plaintiff issued a summons to the City of Yukon, c/o City Manager Tammy Kretchmar, that does not meet requirements of state law and the action “should therefore be dismissed for insufficiency of service of process.”
In the court brief, the city attorney noted the plaintiff names “The City Council for the City of Yukon, a municipal governing body” as a defendant.
A city council is “not a legal entity who is subject to suit or capable of being sued,” the document reads. “Plaintiff attempted to serve ‘The City Council of the City of Yukon’ by issuing two summonses, one to the City Manager for the City of Yukon, and one to the City Clerk for the City of Yukon.
“Neither of these individuals is qualified to accept service of process for the five elected individuals comprising the Yukon City Council.”
There is no provision in the Yukon city charter or Oklahoma state law that qualifies a “city council” as an entity which can be sued, according to Rinehart’s brief.
A hearing on the City of Yukon’s motion to dismiss is set for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 22 before Canadian County District Judge Jack D. McCurdy.
The plaintiff’s suit against the City of Yukon and Yukon City Council was filed by attorneys Armando J. Rosell and Stacy S. Ramdas on behalf of manager Tyler Williams of Williams Family Investments.
“The city council’s decision to deny the appeal/application was arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious (and) bears no reasonable relation to the public health, safety, morals or general welfare,” according to the petition.
Yukon City Council members on July 20 voted 5-0 to reject Williams Family Investments’ rezoning appeal after hearing from neighbors concerned about large truck traffic and a proposed soil mining operation.
Several nearby property owners attended the council meeting to protest the application.
“The group of protestors was spearheaded by Honorable Judge Jack McCurdy, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the protestors,” according to the plaintiff’s suit.
“The city council did not base its decision of denial upon its adopted planning policies, the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the basic physical facts of the property and surrounding area, or reasonable or legitimate grounds. The city council denied plaintiff’s application, in part, on the unreasonable and arbitrary grounds that a large number of neighbors opposed the application.
“City council may not confuse the right to be heard with the idea that the party who shouts the loudest deserves to prevail.”
McCurdy, a lifelong Yukon resident and Canadian County district judge, told city council members July 20 that the applicant wanted the zoning change to allow a dirt-mining operation.
McCurdy warned about dust-filled nuisances, traffic hazards and road damage this would cause. He lives on the south side of SH-66 across from the subject property.