Opus lawyers want plaintiffs' lawyers to hurry

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 | 8:32 p.m. CDT; updated 7:16 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 27, 2014

COLUMBIA — Lawyers from Opus Development Co. want to speed up proceedings related to residents' lawsuit against the city.

The suit, through a temporary restraining order, has blocked construction on the developer's proposed Locust Street student housing project since Aug. 13. Opus is not named as a defendant in the suit, but the order keeps the city of Columbia from granting Opus the permits it needs to proceed with construction.

Opus' attorneys filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey to order the plaintiffs to file their responses to Opus' previous motions by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Currently the responses are due Sept. 8.

The motions request for Opus to be allowed to participate in the suit and for Judge Laughrey to dissolve the restraining order, according to court documents.

In Tuesday's motion, Opus' attorneys wrote that the developers have "valuable property rights" and that "time is of the essence" because the project is scheduled to be completed August 2015.

On Friday, Laughrey extended the restraining order by 10 days.

The plaintiffs, Columbia residents Betty Wilson and Michael MacMann, are suing the city for violating their rights to referendum and free speech by allowing the project to proceed despite two petitions against it.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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