Neighbors Still Trying to Stop the Loop Trolley With Legal Roadblocks

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Neighbors are moving forward with one of two lawsuits against the Loop Trolley project.
Neighbors are moving forward with one of two lawsuits against the Loop Trolley project.

As utility crews prepare Delmar Boulevard for the construction of the $43 million Loop Trolley line, three neighbors and a Delmar Loop business owner are pushing for a federal lawsuit to stop it altogether.

The four people challenging the Loop Trolley filed a lawsuit last October saying the project is unlawful. A U.S. district judge threw out the lawsuit, saying the three neighbors have no legal standing and that the business owner missed his chance to sue. Now, all four are appealing that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking for another chance to argue against the trolley project.

See also: Good Works Furniture Store Closing, Says It's the "First Casualty" of the Delmar Loop Trolley

So what has these plaintiffs so upset about the trolley?

The original lawsuit says the election that resulted in the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District (created to help fund the trolley through a 1 percent sales tax), violated the Constitution by giving business owners more votes than the residents living in the district. The lawsuit also says the trolley project is unlawful because it crosses private land on Lindell Boulevard without permission.

But the plaintiffs never got to argue their case in court. In April, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh threw the case out because Loop business owner Peter Sarandos, who lives in St. Charles County, didn't file his challenge back in 2007 when the district was created. Limbaugh also ruled that the three neighbors joining Sarandos in the case -- Elsie Beck Glickert of University City, Jen Rivenes Jensen of University City and Irene Franklin of St. Louis -- don't have any standing because they don't live or own businesses in the Loop Trolley tax district.

And with the judge's ruling, everything seemed full steam ahead for the trolley.

"I'm very, very pleased by the result," said Joe Edwards, one of the dominant business owners in the Loop and a major supporter of the project, at the time to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think it just shows we've done everything correctly the entire time. And I'm happy to have this behind us."

Now, the anti-trolley foursome is back with an appeal.

The appeal, filed August 22, argues that Sarandos didn't have the chance to file his challenge against the tax district because he wasn't told about formation lawsuit, a violation of his due process rights, his lawyers say.

The plaintiffs are also arguing that neighbors, especially Franklin, do have standing in the lawsuit because they live so close to the proposed trolley route. Franklin's home abuts the tax-district boundary at Lindell and DeBaliviere boulevards, putting her "close enough to hear the 'ding, ding, ding' of the trolley" and "within a stone's throw, if not spitting distance" of the trolley, the lawsuit says.

Glickert has a separate lawsuit pending against the trolley project. Glickert -- who says she has lived in University City for 88 years -- says University City changed the trolley's hours without alerting the public as required by Missouri's Sunshine Law, making the permit "void and of no effect," according to the lawsuit.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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