Legal Wrangling In Neighborhood Dispute

Legal wrangling begins in the ‘neighbor vs. neighbor’ civil lawsuit at Swallow Hills. Two couples are asking a judge to declare that a horse stable owner be ordered to shut down her riding lesson business on her residential property because it violates the subdivision’s covenants.

The Cassgram reports that In February, the Plattsmouth City Council granted a special use permit to Cheryl Dorff Gourley and Scott Gourley which allowed horse riding lessons and other horse-related activities on their property on lot 23 in Swallow Hills. The property is outside the city limits but within the city’s two mile zoning jurisdiction.

Horses and a stable are allowed in Swallow Hills but some residents of the development object to the commercial use of the stable. Other residents say they have no problem with the operation.

(For more background see the Cassgram reports on the planning commission and city council actions at 1/23/13, 2/5/13 & 2/19/13)

The case was scheduled for a temporary injunction hearing today in Cass County District Court but that was continued as the two sides met in the courtroom yesterday. The defense had filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to strike.

The attorney for the defendants, Bill Reinsch, submitted a written brief to District Judge Randall Rehmeier for review. Among the summarizations offered verbally by Reinsch was that all property owners at Swallow Hills need to be a part of the civil suit. William and Ann Herek and Mark and Jann Bergerson are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. There are over 40 property owners.

Reinsch hinted that the scope of names involved in the lawsuit could broaden and that if it is alleged the City of Plattsmouth acted unlawfully “the city should have a dog in this fight too.”

Dave Chebatoris, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said having all property owners in the suit is “silly …beyond silly.” He said it is allowable for only one property owner to ask that the covenants be followed.

Rehmeier asked questions of both attorneys during the hearing. In one conversation between Chebatoris and Rehmeier, Chebatoris commented that the conditional use permit “does not give permission to violate the covenants” and he then confirmed Rehmeier’s clarification query that the plaintiffs are saying “the permit doesn’t trump protective covenants.”

Reinsch also asked that several paragraphs be stricken from the filing.

Rehmeier commented that the beginning of the case has been “handled appropriately” in that the plaintiffs did not request a temporary restraining order. He said he didn’t see “anything particularly harmful” in taking a little more time and granted a continuance in the case while he takes the defense motions under advisement.


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