Legal action considered

By Dennis Minich

Acting city attorney Steve Mauer asked the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen Monday night for direction on two legal issues: one a lingering issue concerning a roadway at the Harrisonville Villas, the second, concerning potentially slanderous statements made by a former alderman on social media.

Mauer said he needed to know the next step concerning the legal action against the developers of the Harrisonville Villas, who have not provided plans to extend Timber Drive to the end of their property line. The issue has been in dispute since 2017.

At that time, the developers requested a variance to no longer have to build the street. A vote of 4-3 of the board granted the variance, but it was later explained the 4-3 vote did not meet the necessary five-vote threshold for an ordinance to pass.

In February, the board told Mauer to negotiate with the developers to come up with a plan. Monday night he said they had agreed to build the street, but have made no effort to do so. He said in his discussions with the developers’ attorney, he had learned they have not responded to him as well.

Mauer said the city has four possible recourses: contact the developers and note they are in violation of city ordinance and continue to cite them for the violation, notify the bond holders that the developers are in default, notify the state which had issued tax waivers of the issue or file a lawsuit. He said the last option would be the least desirable.

Mauer was instructed to proceed with notifications.

The Villas developers had once said they might be developing the adjacent land, but it was noted the land has been placed on the market and they have made no indication of being interested.

Mauer then provided the board with information concerning what he called “a slanderous and potentially libelous” post former alderman Clint Long had posted on Facebook. Long made several allegations against the city, many against city administrator Brad Ratliff.

He gave them both the original post as well as a letter he had sent to Long. The letter read:
Mr. Long:
This letter is to inform you that the City of Harrisonville is investigating your statement published on the Harrisonville Area Swap and Shop Facebook page on or about June 2, 2020. Your statement contained many false allegations and fraudulently degraded the public’s trust in its local government. The City may ultimately file suit and is collecting information prior to making that determination.

To that end, it would be helpful if you could please identify any and all facts, information, documents, communications and/or statements you relied on when you
published your statement. In particular, the City is looking for any and all support you have for the following allegations found in your statement:

-Mr. Ratliff was responsible for the City of Peculiar trying to sell its water service to American Water.

-Mr. Ratliff terminated Eric Patterson, the former Harrisonville Public Works Director.

-Mr. Ratliff is planning on “selling all our Departments and outsourcing everything so we will loose (sic) complete control of services and rates.”

-Mr. Ratliff terminated several employees because “they were working at other jobs because there (sic) hours were cut.

-Mr. Ratliff terminated the Finance Director and “outsourced the finances so no one but him and the Mayor knew where OUR TAX DOLLARS are being spent.”

-That Mr. Ratliff was “ran out” of Peculiar.

-That if a citizen makes a sunshine request “it has to be approved by the Mayor and Ratcliff (sic) which is illegal.”

If we have not heard from you in ten (10) business days we will assume that you have no such information and will proceed accordingly.

Steven E. Mauer.

Mauer said he had received no response and recommended taking no action, noting, “sometimes the juice is not worth the squeezing.”

In other action:

• The board gave approval for the final plat of the Cedarhurst of Harrisonville development.

• Approved rezoning .95 acres at 2801 Brookhart Dr. from M-1, light industrial, to R-1, single family residence.

• Approved a moratorium on the collection of utility fees from 25 residential living units.

• Approved an amended 2020 budget.

• Passed an ordinance concerning procedures to disclose conflicts of interest for elected officials.

• Approved a request from Brandon Polk to keep a pet goat on his property.

• Appointed Bing Schimmelpfenning to the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board.

• Alderman Matt Turner was appointed the liaison to the park board and Judy Reece was appointed the liaison to the planning and zoning commission.


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