Branson Landing Vendors Refuse To Pay Rent After Court Determines Coverdell Rightful Owner (Summary and Map of Court Case Included
Branson allocated ample time to "misbrief" the press on details of a case initiated by Empire District Electric in 2003. Several interested parties in the case folded before Coverdell was left last man standing and was awarded a large portion of the Lake Taneycomo waterfront which includes a section of the Branson Landing extending north from what is now Joe's Crab Shack.
The courts determination verifies land ownership against claims acknowledged by Empire District Electric, Tori Inc, the City of Branson, Branson Paper Inc., Doug Coverdell, Julia Coverdell, Coverdell Enterprises, B Cuz Inc., Keycomm Inc, Peter Rea and Darlene Rea. The judgement doesn't affect land ownership claims to interests not listed as a party to the lawsuit.
Organizations not cited, such as Table Rock Ashpalt, are not affected by the judgment.
After Empire District Electric claimed ownership of land against several parties (listed above) the City of Branson and Coverdell, each party responded to their claims.
Empire District claimed ownership of two connected pieces of property (1 and 2)
Coverdell claimed ownership against the involved parties on a much larger grid under his title. (see outer boundries frin visual judgment of description above).
The City of Branson claimed ownership to the western segment of a peninsula adjacent to what is now called North Beach Park (highlighted in yellow on chart above).
The city never claimed to own North Beach Park. Contrary to assertions that Branson was attempting to preserve land, they in fact were planning to bulldoze North Beach Park with the help of Australians who were eventually cornered out of the deal and granted a multi-million dollar parting gift.
An injunction is currently preventing Branson from slaughtering more of the natural habitat and in the minds of many citizens remains the fact that under the city's watch the Liberty tree met an untimely death.
In 2003 Coverdell and Branson compared notes and determined they were in agreement without conflict as to what land was owned. The case was "bifurcated" and the courts dealt with two separate actions.
Branson stated they weren't interested in claiming new land through adverse possession and affirmed their right to re-enter the case later - a right they never exercised.
Branson battled Empire District Electric and won their claim to the west side of the peninsula in 2004.
According to former city leaders, Empire District Electric met in the backrooms of city hall and promised Branson that they could keep Coverdell at bay - or in this case away from the bay.
Branson collaborated with Empire District Electric with land deals and contracted to third parties to manage the property.
In lieu of the Australians development plans another developer collaborate with the city to build on the downtown Branson waterfront. A
local entreprenear Rick Huffman purchased tickets to a Major League Baseball All-Star game and seduced then Missouri Governor Bob Holden to join him.
Huffman knew he had the governor locked in a plane for several hours where he made his pitch. If there was a salesman hall of fame, Huffman would have a picture on the wall. Holden bought and over a hundred million dollars of tax subsidies gave the green light for construction of the Branson based waterfront project.
Most mortals would have folded to Lathrop and Gage, Empire District Electric's hired guns, who delayed trial for over five years until the patience of the judge expired.
When Empire learned they couldn't delay trial any longer they abandoned their offensive position and dropped their case. Empire's action moved the courts attention to Coverdell's quiet title claim.
Empire District Electric was on the defense and Branson never changed their position until after the Taney County Jury ruled and after their time to appeal expired.
It wasn't until some tenants at the Branson Landing refused to pay rent to a company "not authorized as the rightful owner" that the City of Branson hired three attorneys to appeal. The three attorney's Branson hired were some of the most expensive available and due to Mayor Reanne Presley's new accounting implementation the actual funds spent on legal expenses are difficult to determine. The new system makes it easy to hide expenditures from the press.
One of the attorneys is a former Missouri Supreme Court judge, but dollars weren't enough to compromise the integrity of the appeals court who ruled Branson was an aggrieved party unworthy of special remedy. In other words, Branson had legal rights to appeal but didn't. Branson failed to file post-trial motions within the allocated time frame.
Both Branson and Empire District Electric have again been collaborating behind closed doors in search of a red herring that can eliminate the fiscal threat Coverdell's victory brings to the lakefront.
Unfortunately, the current city administration's action have helped Coverdell's case as they've determined that a small piece of land over a hundred yards from the waterfront is worth a cool million in tax payer funds (see purchase of land from Pennel's family).
Both the city of Branson and people close to the Coverdell case have confirmed the city has never come to the table to resolve the conflict opting to continue a strategy of outspending Coverdell - a strategy which hasn't been working.
Branson's most recent filings have an interesting component. Geo-scientist Curtis Copeland submitted maps with text inserted by outsourced legal counsel. While the city's position was that Coverdell didn't meet legal requirements needed to affirm his right to the jury verdict, Copeland's assessment of land boundaries contained in the legal description given to the jury match the claim against the City of Branson and Empire District Electric contained in the map above.