SIKESTON - A lawsuit was filed Monday against the city of Sikeston in the Scott County Circuit Court challenging a recent rezoning ordinance and seeking an injunction on its enforcement.
The ordinance listed in the lawsuit, passed at the July 9 city council meeting, rezoned the tract of land on the west side of North Main surrounding the First Church of the Nazarene from agricultural open space to C-1 commercial (neighborhood shopping district).
The zoning request was made by the developer, Josh Bill, to accommodate the construction of a new Scott County Health Department public health clinic on 2.79 acres of the 12 acre-area that was rezoned.
Doug Friend, city manager, said the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit and was therefore not prepared to offer comment.
The plaintiff in the suit, R.E.J. Inc., is the corporation formed by Richard Montgomery, Elizabeth Wilson and Joel Montgomery which owns the fenced-in land surrounding their residences located across North Main from the rezoned property.
"We want development across the street - that is fine - but we do not think that it is appropriate to develop things such as the Scott County Health Department, a 'quick sack,' or garage to go in there," said Richard Montgomery. "Those uses are not compatible with the new comprehensive plan. To allow the type of zoning that could develop into an 'East Malone' is not in the best interest of this area or the community of Sikeston."
The city's new comprehensive plan, developed at a cost of $70,000 to replace the city's 27-year old current plan, was delivered in December but has still not been approved by the city council.
Among items listed in the lawsuit is the allegation that during his term as Sikeston's mayor, Bill withheld the plan from the city council and the planning and zoning commission so it would not affect his rezoning request. "Either intentionally or through negligence," said Montgomery.
Bill, whose term as mayor ended in April, declined to offer comment as of press time.
The lawsuit also alleges various technical errors in the ordinance including the failure to notify one landowner. "They're technicalities - but they are errors," said Montgomery.
An open letter from the plaintiffs to the community signed by Montgomery and Troy Wilson appearing on page 4 of today's edition of the Standard Democrat, alleges the city council ignored the wishes of the people and the intent of the new comprehensive plan in addition to the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission. It is highly unusual, although not unprecedented, for the council to vote against planning and zoning's recommendation.
The letter also questions the decision to relocate the health clinic. "We do not feel the Scott County Health Department will best serve their clients on this side of town," said Montgomery. "A lot of these people have to walk."
"We've been renting (in Sikeston) for years and planning for years to build a facility," said Barry Cook, administrator for the Scott County Health Department.
Cook estimated the Sikeston office sees an average of 80-100 clients per day. He estimated the main facility in Benton serves around 15-20 people per day.
Services provided by the clinics include blood pressure screening; testing and medication for tuberculosis and other communicable diseases; screenings, treatment and education programs for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV-AIDS screening and counseling; immunizations for children and adults of all ages; family planning; pregnancy testing; nutrition education, prenatal care; anemia screenings; and cholesterol screening in addition to the well-publicized flu immunizations.