Opponents of a new downtown Kansas City convention hotel filed a lawsuit Monday seeking a court order to place their measure before voters.
The committee of petitioners asked a judge in the Jackson County Circuit Court to order that the planned hotel go to a public vote.
The Kansas City Council decided in November not to place the measure on a ballot, arguing it was illegal and unconstitutional.
The petitioners say that, because they gathered the required number of signatures, the city charter compels the council to let the voters decide.
But the council and the city attorney have said they are not required to put something blatantly illegal on a ballot, and the hotel project should be allowed to move forward.
A judge will determine which side is right.
At issue is the City Council-approved plan for an 800-room, $311 million Hyatt hotel to be built just east of the Bartle Hall ballroom. Supporters hope the long-desired hotel would help Kansas City better compete for more conventions, especially the larger groups.
The petitioners want Kansas City voters to decide whether the city should be allowed to help develop, finance, build or operate any new downtown convention center headquarters hotel.
They gathered more than the 1,700 valid signatures of registered voters that the city charter requires for a petition initiative.
Council members say the proposed ballot language violates Missouri law and would cause the city to be in breach of contract with the hotel developers.
Mike Burke, a lawyer working with the hotel developers, said Monday he welcomed the legal filing and the opportunity to defend the project in court.
“This is an opportunity for us to get in the court with what we feel is a very, very strong legal case,” Burke said. “We would hope for a quick ruling on it.”
Jonathan Sternberg, a lawyer for the petitioners, said he, too, would like a quick court decision, but he didn’t know whether that will come by Jan. 19, which is the deadline to get on the April 5 municipal election ballot.