Neighbors file suit to stop West Des Moines Suite Shots development

Neighbors file suit to stop West Des Moines Suite Shots development

Neighbors opposed to an indoor driving range and restaurant known as Suite Shots have filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to halt the project.

The 15-member group Concerned Citizens for Grand Avenue Development (CCGAD) claim West Des Moines is violating its own zoning restrictions, not following its procedure properly and not allowing the group to appeal the project.

The lawsuit was filed in Polk County on Monday, the day the West Des Moines City Council was expected to vote on rezoning and a planned unit development for the 26-acre site, located south of Grand Avenue and just west of Interstate 35.

Suite Shots would anchor the site, along with a hotel, four office buildings, and quick-service and sit-down restaurants. The 50,000-square-foot facility would have three floors of climate-controlled bays from which golfers can hit into a 250-yard driving range. It would be serviced by a restaurant and bar, similar to the popular Topgolf line of driving ranges.

“The members of CCGAD reside in close proximity to the planned Suite Shots location and own property of which their enjoyment will be adversely affected by the driving range…,” the lawsuit says.

Specifically, CCGAD argues Suite Shots’ planned 150-foot poles, which would hold netting surrounding the driving range, violate the city’s height restrictions. City code includes a 36-foot maximum height restriction for buildings and 20 feet for an accessory building or structure.

More: New Allegiant Air flight from Iowa, Suite Shots rezoning highlight Des Moines development update

At a Plan & Zoning Commission recently, Linda Schemmel, coordinator for West Des Moines’ development services department, said the city code does not relate to poles, just building structures.

CCGAD argues in its lawsuit that poles and netting fall within the city’s definition of structure under its code.

Further, CCGAD believes the request from Suite Shots to rezone the area from open space is “spot zoning.” The practice can be illegal under Iowa law, depending on a variety of factors spelled out by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The lawsuit also claims West Des Moines is violating its code related to an appeal, which CCGAD filed last week after the Plan & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning and PUD application.

The code says appeals trigger a stay of proceedings until the issue is resolved, but the city’s attorney “indicated that the council would not stay the comprehensive plan amendment and Suite Shots PUD as required by the Code of West Des Moines,” according to the lawsuit .

“We ask that the City Council reject the comprehensive plan amendment and Suite Shots PUD so that we can dismiss our lawsuit,” wrote lawyer Gary Dickey in a letter to the City Council. “Otherwise, we will see you in court.”

Neither West Des Moines oficials nor the project’s developer Paul Cownie could immediately be reached for comment.

Previously: Planning for Topgolf-like driving range continues, despite West Des Moines neighbors’ objections

Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at knorvell@dmreg.com or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.

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