Court granted 10-day extension in lawsuit over Hammons hotel TIF


A decision could come as early as mid-February in the ongoing legal battle over the  $3.5 million Tax Increment Financing District for the proposed John Q. Hammons development at Lake of the Ozarks.
The deadline for the final findings of fact and conclusion of law was on Thursday, Jan. 28. The documents were originally due on Jan. 18 but the court granted a 10-day extension at the request of the lead attorney for Four Seasons Marina Rentals and Four Seasons Lakesites, LLC, the entities challenging the TIF district approved by the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen.
That could mean a decision could be issued by the judge as early as mid-February but no later than the end of the month.
Until then, the development of the $100 million resort/hotel on the Grand Glaize Arm of Lake of the Ozarks is on hold. Hammons has indicated that despite the extended legal battle over the TIF, he still plans to build the facility if the court rules favorably.
Hammons had planned to open the facility this spring.
Once the judge issues the decision, the Four Seasons entities could file for an opinion from the Missouri Court of Appeals.

How we got here
The approval of a $3.5-million tax increment financing district by the city of Osage Beach for the John Q. Hammons project triggered the lawsuit challenging the legality of the decision.
The suit was filed in December 2007 just days after Four Seasons Marina Rentals purchased property in Camden County and within two days of the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen approving the Tax Increment Financing District.
The original suit was filed by Four Seasons Marina Rentals, LLC. Four Seasons Lakesites, Inc., has since joined the suit. Among the issues the suit challenges is the use of the blighted designation as a criteria for the approval of a TIF.
The suit was filed in Camden County but was later transferred to the federal level. The day the trial was set to begin in Jefferson City, the judge scheduled to hear the case remanded it back to circuit saying the federal court did not have jurisdiction.
Once the case was re-filed in circuit court, Four Seasons Marina Rentals requested a change of venue due to the coverage in the Lake Sun and petitioned the court to have the case heard by a jury.
The case was scheduled to go to trial in September but got bumped to Oct. 5. It was later moved to Dec. 14.
The Missouri Supreme and Appeals courts declined to order a change of venue or force the court to have a jury hear the case.
A subsequent ruling  by the circuit court in favor of the city denied Four
Seasons' challenge to the composition and validity of the TIF Commission and the due process challenge to the Missouri TIF Act premised on the TIF Act's alleged
unconstitutional redirection of property taxes.
The case was taken under advisement after a four day jury trial in December. Legal representatives were given until Jan. 18 to file their final documents.
A 10-day extension was granted by the judge at the request of Curran who was out of the country when the final document were due.

What is a TIF?
 Under state statute, a TIF district allows a portion of the future taxes generated by a designated development to pay for certain project costs. The taxing entities continue to receive payments at the pre-redevelopment rate.

Contact this reporter at joyce.miller@lakesunonline.com