A state appeals court has upheld the efforts of St. Peters, Mo. to use tax increment financing to build a levee structure along Highway 370 to open the area to re-development.
A group of environmentalists sued the city in 2005 over its decision to declare about 1,600 acres of Missouri River floodplain as "blighted." The city wanted to open the area, which is bounded roughly by Spencer Creek, Dardenne Creek, the city limits and the Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks, to development, but argued that it first needed to construct a levee to stop flooding that had blocked previous development.
The plaintiffs challenged the finding that:
- the area was indeed "blighted;"
- that development could not occur without the levee construction;
- the procedure by which a revised city development plan was adopted; and
- the constitutionality of the tax increment financing statute itself.
In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the Western District of Missouri rejected those arguments, saying that the city of St. Peters had correctly concluded that the land posed unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and that a series of unprofitable ventures (a family farm, a golf course) proved that development could not happen without flood protection.
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