ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District has reversed a decision by a circuit court to dismiss a contented-case administrative review.
The case is centered on Winter Brothers Material Co., which owns 900 acres of land that has gravel and sand. The company filed for a conditional-use permit with St. Louis County to collect the sand and gravel, according to court records.
The St. Louis Planning and Zoning Commission denied the permit. Winter Brothers appealed the denial to the St. Louis County Council.
The council referred the appeal back to the Planning Commission where it was denied again. The council then referred the appeal to the Public Improvement Committee, which upheld the denial.
Winter Brothers filed a petition for a contested-case review of the county council’s decision. It filed a second count in the petition that said “if count I failed, count II asserted a claim for inverse condemnation, alleging that the County took Winter Brothers’ property for public use without just compensation," according to the appeals court’s decision.
The Circuit Court of St. Louis County suspended count II and upheld the county council’s decision.
Winter Brothers appealed the circuit court’s decision.
The appeals court found that the case did not qualify as a contested-case according to the Missouri Administrative Procedure Act because the county council didn’t hold a formal hearing of the Winter Brothers’ application.
In a contested case, the circuit court would review the facts of the administrative hearings and not hear new testimony or gather facts. This case qualified as a non-contested case in which the circuit court would conduct a new trial not just a review of the facts.
“Because the circuit court lacked authority to review Winter Brothers’ petition as a contested case, its judgment is void,” the decision said.
The court also found that because the circuit court never made a decision on count two, the judgment was not final.
The appeals court reversed the decision and instructed the circuit court to allow Winter Brothers to amend its petition to make it a non-contested case.