The group who helped get Proposal 3 on the Traverse City ballot last year has filed to be a co-defendant in a lawsuit against the city seeking to declare the charter amendment illegal.
Attorneys Grant Parsons and Jay Zelenock filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Save Our Downtown (SOD) in Thirteenth Circuit Court Tuesday. SOD seeks to be a co-defendant in the case alongside the city, which is being sued by developer Tom McIntyre over Proposal 3, the newly enacted charter amendment requiring a public vote on buildings over 60 feet high.
In its motion to intervene, SOD argues that its participation in the lawsuit is necessary "to ensure that the will of the city residents will be fairly and zealously advocated." The group states that "the city's actions suggest that it does not intend to fully defend the vote of a majority of electors," citing various past remarks from city commissioners and city staff opposing Proposal 3 and stating the amendment is illegal. SOD also says City Planning Director Russ Soyring agreed to a request to review parts of McIntyre's legal complaint - which included a detailed history of zoning and building heights in the city - and provided edits and comments before it was submitted in court, a move SOD says amounted to city staff assisting McIntyre in his lawsuit.
"To say that it is extraordinary for a party - especially a municipal party that ostensibly represents its city residents - to assist a party in suing the city is a gross understatement," SOD's motion reads.
SOD also alleges that City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht failed to mount a vigorous defense of Proposal 3 in her answer to complaint filed on the city's behalf in response to McIntyre's lawsuit. "SOD believes that the city's non-advocacy will continue and absent intervention by SOD, will result in an ersatz defense comparable to a World Wresting Federation 'wrestling contest,'" SOD's attorneys wrote.
Traverse City commissioners voted last month not to block efforts by SOD to intervene in the case. However, McIntyre's attorneys refused to stipulate, so the issue will go to a hearing next Tuesday (Feb. 21) at 4pm in front of Judge Thomas Power in Thirteenth Circuit Court. SOD is requesting an award of attorney fees incurred in bringing the intervention motion, saying McIntyre's refusal to stipulate is "dilatory and violates the Michigan law concerning intervention."