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Three LeClaire homeowners have filed a lawsuit against the city and city council following a controversial decision to approve plans for a new Kwik Star convenience store and gas station near the intersection of Cody and Eagle Ridge roads.

Residents David S. Griffith, Lilliana Santillan and Gary P. Brecht filed the suit Friday in Scott County District Court, court records show. 

It was served just before Monday’s city council meeting, Mike Meloy, the homeowners' attorney, said Tuesday. 

“We contend that the rezoning was done in violation of both Iowa State law and the LeClaire city code," Meloy said in an email statement to the Quad-City Times. “The City Council rezoned an ‘R-1’ low density residential real property with an existing residential home on it to a ‘C-3’ high density commercial use for a 24-hour a day Kwik Star gasoline station.

“This is the wrong location for this gasoline station to operate at. The site is located on a curve in the road. It will increase traffic accidents and cause more traffic congestion.”

Kwik Star had applied for a revision of the city's comprehensive plan and to rezone a 3.3-acre property from R-1, low-density residential, to C-3, high-density commercial so it can construct a convenience store and gas station.

Initially, the plans called for a store larger than 7,000 square feet, but the proposal was scaled back to 5,700 square feet on Feb. 8 after a new site plan was submitted.

The new plan, however, did not alter designs for 16 gas pumps, which would effectively double the number in the city, and a 30-foot tall illuminated logo sign.

On Feb. 19, despite more than 75 residents turning out to protest the proposed development, the LeClaire City Council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the comprehensive plan and the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the property.

The city council approved the project March 19.

The homeowners in the lawsuit allege that the city council did not lawfully notify all property owners of their right to protest and miscalculated the protest rate to the Kwik Star rezoning; the city council usurped the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s powers by passing the rezoning ordinance and the Kwik Star site plan; and that the city council violated state law requirements that an ordinance must be approved at three different meetings by the city council.

Meloy said the city council also violated the Iowa Open Meetings Act and failed to follow its own city code when "they rushed to pass the rezoning" at the March 19 meeting. 

No hearing date on the lawsuit has been scheduled as of Tuesday afternoon, court records show. 

A call and email to Mayor Ray Allen was not returned Tuesday. 

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