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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

City settles suit with Monett Investors

Thursday, November 4, 2010

(Photo)
Monett City Hall.
The Monett City Council held a closed meeting last week and voted to approve a settlement with the Stenger family over property located north of the Lowe's store off Highway 60.

The Stengers, doing business as Monett Investors, had proposed developing their 13.8 acres of property into an industrial and commercial park. The family had proposed a development at the same time the Highway 60 improvements around the Lowe's property were being done as part of Monett's second tax increment financing (TIF) district.

Monett's TIF Commission urged the Stengers to sign on to the city's TIF project and develop the entrance into their land across from Lowe's Lane as part of the Highway 60 work. The Stengers would have had to commit funds to development the road to standards set by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for the entrance and with the city for additional streets.

The Stengers chose not to sign onto the city's TIF project despite repeated encouragement by TIF commissioners. TIF bonds went to market without including any work on the Stenger property. The family entered into negotiations with MoDOT to participate in innovative financing offered to the city. Plans were never completed, and no arrangements made. The land has never been developed.

On Dec. 14, 2005, Monett Investors filed suit against the City of Monett, Lowe's and engineer Kevin Sprenkle, designer of the project. The Stengers sought $300,000 in damages.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the Stengers earlier this year approached Karl Blanchard, the city's attorney handling the case, and suggested a settlement of $8,000. The matter was discussed at length. The TIF Commission held a special closed meeting on Oct. 26 to recommend accepting the settlement. Council members met Oct. 28 to accept the recommendation.

"Karl said though the city's position was strong and the city would prevail in the end, $8,000 was at least half the cost it would take to litigate the case," Pyle said. "Council members decided to settle and move on."

TIF Commission Chairman Mark Nelson said neither party agreed to any fault in the settlement. Cost of the agreement would be paid from TIF funds. The city's expense, including providing documents to the Stengers and existing legal fees, probably raised the total cost to around $16,000.

A final document finalizing arrangements in ordinance form will still need to be adopted by the council, Pyle added.



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