Lawsuit Against A Nebraska Community

Federal lawsuit filed against the City of Plattsmouth. The Plattsmouth City Council went into closed session this week for discussion on the litigation “regarding the relocation of the floodway line per ordinance #1819.”

The suit was filed June 20th in U. S. District Court in Omaha.

In the filing, Castaway Pointe describes how the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency took actions in 2007 to amend the floodway ordinance (#1419 adopted in 1987) to exclude the property of the then-proposed Castaway Pointe development from the floodway overlay district. After those actions, Castaway developers proceeded with the property purchase and planning for the housing, commercial and marina area east of Plattsmouth along the Missouri River.

(Property sales were slow. Developers at one point sought and received city approval for a change in the housing development plan. River flooding in 2010 and 2011 affected Castaway Pointe with the historic 2011 flood causing extensive damage.)

At the heart of the lawsuit issue is Plattsmouth ordinance #1819—the ordinance adopted in 2010 by the city council that changed the floodway map. (The federal government had issued new flood maps in 2010 and local governments adopted the new floodway provisions after making the usual local public notice issuances.)

The plaintiff claims it “had no notice” of the new ordinance and its implications for the development. Castaway Pointe says it did not learn of #1819 until the summer of 2011. The suit also claims the ordinance was passed in such a way that there could not be amendments to #1819, unlike #1419 which did allow amendments. Castaway Pointe terms the city’s adoption of the ordinance “irrational.”

“Had Plattsmouth provided Castaway with a pre-deprivation notice of its intent to pass ordinance #1819 Castaway could have taken action to avoid the floodway designation posed by #1819,” says the suit.

The filing also claims the city is guilty of breach of contract.

Through its insurance carrier, the city is represented by the Welch Law Firm of Omaha. Larry Welch Jr. says he and his staff are just starting the process of reviewing the lawsuit and will be in position soon to issue a statement. Welch described the suit as “rather voluminous in nature.” The arguments provided by Castaway in its initial filing total 30 pages and then there are several more pages of copies of the ordinances, maps and other information referenced in the suit.

Castaway says it suffered general and specific damages of $1.75 million for the property purchase and the engineering, and at least $5 million “for the diminution of the value of the real property as a result of the floodway designation.”

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