The City of Powell has agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the owner of a mixed-use development in the city’s downtown district.
Mayor Brian Lorenz announced at Tuesday’s council meeting that the amount of the settlement with CV Real Property, developer of the Center at Powell Crossing, is $1.8 million. According to documents provided by the city, Powell will pay $950,000 of the claim, while the city’s insurer, Great American Insurance Group, will pay $850,000.
With the settlement of the lawsuit, Powell’s general fund absorbs a major blow. Lorenz said the city will pay its share of the claim out of the unappropriated fund balance of the general fund. During Tuesday’s meeting, council passed an ordinance approving an expenditure adjustment to appropriate the $950,000.
The lawsuit stemmed from a March 25, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James L. Graham which stated that a charter amendment, approved by voters in November 2014, banning “high-density housing” in Powell’s downtown district was unconstitutional. A provision in the charter amendment, which 56 percent of Powell voters supported, specifically denied construction of a 64-unit apartment and retail complex proposed by Powell Crossing LLC developer CV Real Property.
Graham’s ruling invalidated the amendment in its entirety, noting that it was an unlawful delegation of legislative power. Additionally, Graham ruled that Powell Crossing LLC was entitled to permanent injunctive relief, damages, and attorney fees.
A group of Powell citizens who initiated the charter amendment filed a motion to intervene with a federal court in April 2016 to seek an appeal of the district court’s ruling. That motion was denied as was a subsequent appeal of the denial.
Powell resident David Ebersole was escorted from the building by a city police officer following a heated exchange with the mayor when council opened the meeting for public participation. He was a supporter of the charter amendment.
Other residents expressed anger at the group that initiated the charter amendment.
(NOTE: An update to this story will be posted online and published in the Thursday, Sept. 21 print edition of The Gazette.)